Martin Luther King Plaza Neighborhood Revitalization

Philadelphia, PA

“The vision for the former Martin Luther King Plaza closely tracks the latest thinking, whereby revitalization of the public housing serves as a catalyst for broader neighborhood-wide revitalization.”

Funded with a 1998 HOPE VI Grant, the master plan for Martin Luther King Plaza replaced a dense, high-rise public housing community with a mixed program of new neighborhood uses. New mixed-income housing, in both rental and homeownership configurations, accommodating the needs of singles, families and seniors, together with new community and retail uses, are all part of the new development. Significantly, new housing is equally divided between on-site reconstruction and off-site renovation and infill. Extensive attention and resources were also devoted to strengthening resident self-sufficiency. Long term sustainability of the revitalized community will be assured by eliminating blight and creating social, economic and physical stability in the broader community.

One key to the on-site master plan is the creation of a new residential square founded in the tradition of neighborhood-making established by William Penn, founder of Philadelphia. This new open space is the focal point for the broader Hawthorne neighborhood and marries new and renovated housing, retail with residential above, and a host of local institutions, including a new daycare and community center, a local church and an existing elementary school. The architecture of the new units includes a diverse set of types modeled on traditional patterns of Philadelphia neighborhoods.

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Project Data

6 acre site
demolition of 576 high-rise units
128 new residential units - on-site
121 new residential infill units - off-site
8,000 sf retail on/off-site
10,000 sf community center
1/2 acre park
$25.2 Million HOPE VI Grant

Sustainable Design Elements:
architecture modelled after traditional Philadelphia types
residential, retail and local institutional mix of uses
reuses existing infrastructure
reconnects residents to existing neighborhood
provides range of housing options
creates new public outdoor space



New Face of America's Public Housing Award


Builder's Choice Award


Congress for The New Urbanism Charter Award


Residential Architect Design Award


American Institute of Architects Honor Award in Regional and Urban Design

Torti Gallas + Partners understands how to integrate and transform neighborhoods for the connected world.

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