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Designing a gateway to Lehigh-Somerset

Murals, street art, columns, and plantings at the intersection of Lehigh and Frankford lead to a big welcome through the railway viaduct.

Two intersections along Frankford Avenue serve as gateways into the Lehigh-Somerset neighborhood. Lehigh and Frankford is a five-point intersection and home to the Kensington Community Food Coop. Somerset and Frankford, four blocks to the north, is the location of a neighborhood landmark, the Community Women’s Education Project (CWEP). A railway viaduct with a wide, empty right-of-way lies between the two intersections.

The Collaborative's volunteers worked with Somerset Neighbors for Better Living, an active community group within the New Kensington CDC service area, on a conceptual plan for the two gateways and the blocks in between. Our conceptual plan proposes a shared, vibrant vocabulary of street trees and planting beds fed by stormwater, sidewalk bump-outs, and street art at the two intersections.  Welcome signs and a bold wall-and-road mural can turn the railway viaduct into a neighborhood connector, rather than a barrier.

A full menu of streetscape improvements between the intersections adds continuity and diverse neighborhood public spaces—outdoor seating and a rain garden in front of the food coop, a public art installation and sitting area, an urban tree training center, a community garden, and additional play space, stormwater infrastructure, and plantings at CWEP. 

The conceptual design includes ideas for early action projects and longer-term investments in infrastructure. It is part of an overall effort to green and improve public space within the Lehigh-Somerset neighborhood. Somerset Neighbors for Better Living recently received a PHS Placemaking Grant to beautify the neighborhood with window boxes and street planters as part of the effort. 

See our online project profile for more images from the conceptual design and info about this Design Grant's location, donated services, and volunteer team.



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