New facility welcomed in historic park
Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park Commission has built its first new building in more than a century. Lloyd Hall, a two-story, 12,000-square-foot, multi-purpose building, was designed to blend with its historic surroundings.
Created in 1855, Fairmount Park is home to hundreds of pieces of municipal artwork, historic landmarks, Philadelphia’s Museum of Art and Boathouse Row. The 8,900-acre park on the Schuylkill River has 100 miles of trails for jogging and bicycling.
Funded by the city and the state and designed by locally based Armstrong Kaulbach Associates, Lloyd Hall is the only public building on Boathouse Row. It includes a gymnasium, restrooms, banquet facilities, cafe concessions, an information center and a balcony. There also is a public terrace outside the building that leads to a shallow amphitheater with tables and seating by the river.
The focal point of Lloyd Hall is the 4,500-square-foot gymnasium, which is used for league basketball games, polka parties, weddings, corporate conferences and civic events such as blood drives. The gymnasium has attracted attention because of its three solid glass block walls, manufactured by Pittsburgh-based Pittsburgh Corning, which allow for natural light and provide views of the park and the river.
Once construction was completed in 1998, Lloyd Hall quickly became popular for many community activities. The building serves as the starting line for marathons, fund-raising events and bicycling races, according to Stephanie Craighead, deputy director for planning of the Fairmount Park Commission. “People will say, ‘Let’s ride to Lloyd Hall and have lunch,'” Craighead says. “And there are people who are Lloyd Hall regulars – they’ll come in for breakfast and stay and read the newspaper. It’s amazing.”
The construction of Lloyd Hall is part of a larger plan to revitalize the park. The commission also is restoring the Fairmount Waterworks, which was one of the first buildings in the park and one of the city’s earliest water facilities, built between 1812 and 1822. The commission expects to complete the $20 million restoration in 2001.