It was a crazy idea to fly to Philly a week before moving out of our apartment. So why did we do it? Olin and the facilities office at Penn provided valuable assistance and advice to Ian for his master's project, and so he wanted to present his project to them. Monday, June 22–Tuesday, June 23 just happened to be the window that worked for them.
We flew out Sunday morning and arrived early in the afternoon. Luke, from our small group, picked us up at the airport then took us for some Rita's Water Ice, which we'd seen and heard about but never tried during our 8 months in Philly. Not bad! We walked down to Rittenhouse Square before heading to Tenth for the evening service. We surprised a few people, and also were surprised to find out Fred and Laura were expecting in late August! (Anna Thomas was born August 27 and she's beautiful!) After the service the church hosted an outdoor coffee/dessert event, which gave us time to catch up with some friends.
Monday morning we took a stroll down the Parkway to see what was new. It turns out a lot. Instead of the Juvenile Detention Center facility, we saw an open grassy block fronted by a curving wall describing how the Barnes Foundation is moving to the Parkway. The Barnes "is home to one of the world's largest collections of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist and early Modern paintings, with extensive holdings by Picasso, Matisse, Cézanne, Renoir and Modigliani, as well as important examples of African sculpture."
It was amazing to see how demolishing one building made such an impact on the area: many homeless people spent their nights huddled in sleeping bags next to that building. With the building gone, it was very noticeable that the area's homeless population was down. I couldn't help but wonder where they went and how they are doing. However, in terms of planning it seems like a smart move. City Hall and the Philadelphia Museum of Arts bookend the Parkway, which is home to the Perelman Building and Rodin Museum as well as a public library and Logan Square. The addition of the Barnes will add to the visual appeal of the Parkway and increase the draw of the Museum District as a destination for the arts.
We wandered further down the Parkway, pausing at Logan Square.
Our walk ended at our favorite Philadelphia restaurant: Caribou Cafe. And a meal here would not be complete without the brioche bread pudding drenched in butterscotch and white chocolate.
After lunch we headed to Penn to take another look at the space Ian spent all year designing and drop off his master's project book with the facilities office. It was fun to be back on campus, and it was my first time visiting the facilities office. We also saw the construction on Franklin Field, where they are adding a fitness center, and the work at the Penn Park site.
After leaving Penn, we headed to Eastern State Penitentiary, an attraction we missed during Ian's internship. It was pretty incredible to learn its history, and see the restored wings as well as the areas kept in a state of suspended ruin. And of course, we had to make sure we didn't miss Al Capone's cell.
After our tour we met up with Amit for some food, fellowship and ice cream.
Tuesday morning we packed up and headed to Olin, where Ian gave a presentation on his master's project to a couple of the partners who helped him out with his project. It was great to see everyone at the firm, and the two partners took us out for lunch after the presentation. It was wonderful for me to get to know Ian's old bosses a little better. With the economic downturn, they told us they were thankful they haven't had to lay off a single employee, but couldn't say when they would be hiring again. We both really respect their honesty and their efforts to maintain job security for all their employees. I'm thankful Olin was where Ian fulfilled his internship requirement.
After a delicious lunch, we rushed to the airport to catch our flight back, but we did take a few moments to get one final photo.