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The Forum
Recycled Concrete Aggregate
2021 (set to build in 2026)

2021 The Forum

In collaboration with artist Sharon Hayes, the conceptual proposal of The Forum won the competition for the Penn’s Landing Park public art commission and is set to build in 2026. The Forum will be a sculpture, a gathering site, a public amenity, a reparation to the landscape and a recognition of the waterfront as a complex site holding meaningful histories. The work looks beyond the dominant stories of Philadelphia to give a platform to the less-known narratives that are a vital part of our present and future as a city.

The sculpture has two components. A 500ft. long, low wall carved into the landscape that arcs alongside the edge of a designed sidewalk in shape of the18th century shoreline of the Lenapewihittuck, the name the Lenape gave to the Delaware River. The gesture speaks to the Lenape’s custom of clearing land near riverbeds for settlement and ceremonial assembly. The jagged and rippling boundary orients park visitors to the original geography of the land, and excavates submerged histories along the waterfront.

Sitting inside this gathering site is a constellation of 5 concrete slabs that emerge from the meadow as reimagined ruined fragments from the foundation of Pennsylvania Hall, an 1838 anti-slavery venue near the waterfront that was burned down by a white mob 4 days after its opening. Taking up the Hall’s commitments: freedom, hope, change, righteous collective struggle and justice, the platforms are an invitation for contemporary publics to listen, sing, reflect, dance, testify, witness and be free. They are for park goers, families, friends to sit and hang out and also for organized events like theater, dance, poetry or music. The differently-sized platforms allow for small informal performance and large ticketed events.

The work invites people to make it their own; it will transform as the city transforms; it reaches out to our future selves with a grounded accountability to our rich and diverse pasts. The Forum provides a new foundation that reaches across platforms to see each other anew.

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