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The Project

OLIN’s design retained key features of the original design while making essential renovations and upgrades. The scope of the project included:

Interior Courtyard Garden
  • Interior garden regrading, including enhanced accessibility for all pathways
  • Repair and restoration of garden walls, stairs
  • Replacement and restoration of all bluestone and stone fine paving
  • Selective removal and pruning of shrubs outside
  • Planting of trees, shrubs and perennials within the garden
  • A new water-efficient irrigation system for all new planting
  • New garden lighting

Exterior Garden Landscape Improvements
  • Restoration of all exterior lawn areas
  • Installation of service stairs, walls and curbs, exterior pathways
  • Installation of rear drive accessible entry and retaining wall
  • Planting trees, shrubs and groundcover between perimeter iron fence and exterior paths
  • Planting buffering trees along rear drive, including a row of native Willow Oaks
  • Water-efficient irrigation for all new plantings
  • Restoration of Meudon Gate and terrace

Exterior Site Landscaping and Site Improvements
  • New and accessible pathways, integrating the garden, exterior landscape and improving connection to Parkway sidewalks
  • Selective pruning of existing canopy trees
  • Selective planting of new canopy and flowering trees
  • Parkway enhancements, including improved drainage between 21st and 22nd Streets
  • New benches and receptacles along Parkway sidewalk at front entry
  • Planting of flowering shrubs and groundcover at front entry
  • Replacement of declining trees along Parkway between 21st and 22nd Streets and at front entry

Meudon Gate

As an integral part of the garden and landscape rejuvenation project, the stone entrance to the Rodin Museum, known as the Meudon Gate, was also restored. The gate--modeled after the 18th-century façade at Château d’Issy, which Rodin had installed at his property at Meudon, France--is a significant feature both on the grounds and as viewed from the Parkway. It has been cleaned to remove the vehicular grime and pollution that has accumulated during the past 80 years. It was re-pointed and its stone repaired where necessary, and its large French wrought-iron gates, fashioned in Paris in 1926-7 after a circa 1700 model, were cleaned, restored, and coated as well. Two flights of limestone steps leading to the museum entrance were also replaced using new stone quarried in France. Improvements include:
  • Stone façade cleaning and repair
  • Historic metalwork conservation and restoration
  • Plumbing and electrical repair
  • Roof repair
  • Repair and replacement of terrace paving and stone steps

Planting Plan

A new planting plan for the interior courtyard garden and the areas surrounding the Museum have been implemented in close coordination with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. The plan for the outer areas creates a vista to spotlight the courtyard and museum building from the Parkway, with plantings that include native species used in the original design: a mix of Viburnums, Fragrant Sumac, Bush Honeysuckle, Sweetspire, Summersweet, American Beautyberry, Fothergilla, Oakleaf Hydrangea, and winter-blooming Witch Hazel. Above this shrub layer is a low canopy of flowering trees: Saucer and Sweetbay Magnolias, Carolina Silverbells, and Japanese Scholartrees. Within the interior courtyard, a formal perennial garden offers Aster, Cupid’s Dart, Coreopsis, Cardinal Flower, Lavender and Phlox with a wide variety of fragrance and seasonal display. Color, texture and variety of plants, changing throughout the seasons, contribute to draw the visitor into the gardens year-round.

The Thinker

One of Auguste Rodin’s most famous sculptures and a prominent feature of the Rodin Museum, The Thinker, was transported to the Philadelphia Museum of Art for safekeeping during the initial phase of renovations. This world-famous masterpiece was on display in the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Great Stair Hall until it was safely reinstalled at the Rodin Museum.

The Benjamin Franklin Parkway

Coinciding with the Rodin Museum garden and landscape renovations, the north and south sides of the Parkway streetscape between 21st Street and Eakins Oval were enhanced through pedestrian, bicycle, and vehicular circulation improvements. Curb extensions, or “bump outs,” minimized pedestrian crossing distances, and a widened central median was created through strategic parking and traffic lane configurations. A clearly marked bicycle lane has been provided. Tour bus loading and unloading for the Rodin Museum was accommodated on 22nd Street. New paving and furnishings were installed based on Fairmount Park’s publication, The Benjamin Franklin Parkway Design Guidelines for Public Environs. Fairmount Park has retained Lager Raabe Skafte Landscape Architects, the author of the guidelines, as the designers for the Parkway streetscape improvements.


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