Infill Philadelphia: Soak it Up!



Philadelphia riverfront

National Design Competition

The Philadelphia Water Department, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Community Design Collaborative have partnered to launch a national, interdisciplinary design competition promoting the creative and innovative use of green stormwater infrastructure in Philadelphia and other cities. The design competition is part of Infill Philadelphia: Soak it Up! – a design initiative exploring how green rainwater infrastructure can revitalize urban neighborhoods.

“Our partnership with Philadelphia represents the EPA’s firm commitment to encourage, support, and assist municipalities that adopt green infrastructure to improve both water quality and the sustainability of their communities,” says EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin.

Beth Miller, Executive Director of the Community Design Collaborative, adds, “This design competition will get everyone thinking about the broader community benefits of green stormwater infrastructure. We look forward to seeing the results.”

Interdisciplinary teams of architects, landscape architects, engineers and other professionals will be challenged to develop new models for green stormwater infrastructure, focusing on one of three sites in Philadelphia.


Green City, Clean Waters

Green rainwater infrastructure is crucial to the implementation of Green City, Clean Waters, the City’s innovative, environmentally-sustainable 25-year plan to protect and enhance local waterways primarily through the use of green stormwater infrastructure.

“As we evolve Philadelphia into America’s most sustainable and green city, the opportunities ahead will be limited only by the confines of our imaginations and the extent of our determination,” says Howard Neukrug, Commissioner of the Philadelphia Water Department.


Three Projects

The innovative designs generated by the competition will serve as prototypes for green rainwater infrastructure throughout Philadelphia and the country, illustrate potential public/private partnerships, and aid property owners in seeing the return on investment. The three sites are:

  • Warehouse Watershed: A warehouse and a city-owned vacant lot that offer possibilities for public-private partnerships and the revitalization of a high-vacancy, mixed-use residential/industrial district.
  • Retail Retrofit: A retail strip center that has the potential to play a more central role in the surrounding neighborhood through improved walkability, pop-up space for community events, and access to river recreation
  • Greening the Grid: An historic neighborhood with an engaged community and a dense network of streets, alleys, roofs, and open space that offers possibilities for an array of small-scale interventions.

“We believe this competition will inspire the best architectural and engineering minds in the nation to bring their talents to bear on adopting green infrastructure for improving both water quality and the sustainability of communities,” says Shawn M. Garvin.