Philadelphia Remembers: The June 5th Memorial Park

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Courtesy of Scott Aker, AIA

The City of Philadelphia is turning a tragedy into an opportunity for the community to commemorate those lost and remember the paramount importance of job safety.

On June 5th, 2013, the demolition of a vacant building at 2138 Market Street in Philadelphia collapsed a party wall, destroying a Salvation Army Thrift Store and resulting in six fatalities and many injuries. To ensure that this tragedy would not be forgotten, the City of Philadelphia decided to provide a contemplative respite for visitors while preserving the memory of those lost and projecting its commitment to public safety.

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Courtesy of Scott Aker, AIA

On January 14, 2014, a committee of dedicated civic leaders and volunteers was formed for a memorial park at the site of the building collapse. In March of that year, the Salvation Army agreed to give the land to the City of Philadelphia at no cost. The City Council approved the transfer of the land into the City’s park system and, in June, former Mayor Michael Nutter dedicated the site as a memorial park. Artist Barb Fox won the competition to lead a team of pro bono design professionals with her vision of a memorial titled “Witness.” The June 5th Memorial Park design received final approval by the Philadelphia Art Commission on June 3, 2015.  A team of professional designers collaborated over a period of six months to develop final plans. Over $150,000 in design hours has been donated by licensed design professionals in the Philadelphia area.

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Courtesy of Scott Aker, AIA

In September 2015, the fundraising team launched a challenge to build the park on the 3rd anniversary of the collapse; ground was broken in April 2016.  Challenges include performing work in bustling downtown Philadelphia.

Representatives of the City of Philadelphia contacted HAKS to perform the special inspections and material testing for the memorial due to our long-standing reputation in the field. HAKS is proud to be a part of this effort by providing testing of soil, concrete, rebar, structural steel and masonry in the construction of this permanent memorial.

You can follow the construction from a webcam overlooking the site from the adjacent College of Physicians of Philadelphia. A documentary is also being produced.  Learn more about the project at June 5th Memorial Park and on Facebook.

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