Sneak peek: Philly's flying saucer, visitor center in LOVE Park, gets makeover

Pat Loeb
March 17, 2019 - 4:00 am

Pat Loeb/KYW Newsradio


PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Philadelphia city officials, last week, unveiled the partial restoration of the LOVE Park visitors center, affectionately known as the Flying Saucer.

"1..2..3, oh look at that, it's beautiful," said Philadelphia Parks & Recreation commissioner Kathryn Ott Lovell. 

She dropped a tarp to reveal a gleaming glass wall, the original vision for the visitor center when it was installed in 1960.

"This luminous, transparent, beautiful spot from which to view the city, modern, optimistic," she said.

Richard Maimon is with the architectural firm Kieran Timberlake, which is doing the restoration. 

READ: Chicken lovers rejoicing, lobbying after bill looks to make their livestock legal

He says the building became a poignant symbol of the disinvestment in American cities that followed that optimism, and the glass was part of the story.

"Layers were added to the glass and what was transparent became opaque and what was inviting became off-putting," he said.

For all that, Philadelphians loved it. A public outcry saved it from the wrecking ball. Maimon says glass technology has caught up with the vision and Parks Conservancy board president John Gattuso says so have the city's prospects.

"Today, it is very appropriate and very forward looking and perhaps no better time for us to rededicate this building, really bringing it to its full realization as a very active, vibrant restaurant surrounded by so much more dynamic growth than existed here in 1960," he said.

There is a lot of work left but restaurateurs Valerie Safran and Marcey Turney say they hope to open in the fall.