Situated in the heart of Kensington, Philadelphia, the Lehigh Viaduct, which runs between Somerset and Lehigh Avenues, was once a major coal conveyance railroad. Owned and operated by Conrail as a single freight line today, it cuts a gulch below street level in some areas, and is an elevated overpass in others. Unfortunately, the viaduct’s secluded and inaccessible location has rendered it an active zone for illicit and dangerous activity, most notably opioid drug use and transactions. Conrail has partnered with the City of Philadelphia and neighboring community organizations to redesign the viaduct, including clearing trash and illegal dumping in the half mile ravine, removing overgrown vegetation, and taking steps to generally deter and prevent negative activity.
Apiary Studio, in collaboration with N.4TH, was hired by Conrail to develop a conceptual master plan, landscape rehabilitation strategy and site plans specifically related to Impact Services’ building to turn the adjoining green corridor into a community asset and improve the quality of life for neighboring residents. In our ongoing work, we’re unifying the Impact Services facility with portions of the corridor by beautifying and maintaining sections of land adjacent to the tracks. The first of these projects is the Impact Services Plaza, which is profiled here.