Philadelphia’s Art Commission is a charter-mandated design review board for architecture and public art. The Commission must approve the designs of the following:
- All construction and alterations that are paid for wholly or in part with City funds or that are on publicly owned land, including streets (e.g., projections or encroachments into the public Right of Way).
- All construction and/or signs on private property in certain special controls areas (see Section 14-502 of the Philadelphia Code for specific boundaries) –
- All construction in the Parkway Buffer Area and the Independence Hall Area.
- All signs in the Convention Center Area, Center City Commercial Area, Parkway Buffer Area, Vine Street Area, Washington Square Area, Independence Hall Area, and the Rittenhouse Square Area.
- Acquisition of new works of public art by the City and conservation and maintenance of the City’s existing collection that are executed by the Public Art Office.
Today the Art Commission’s mission is much the same as it was more than 90 years ago, to insure that anything built in the City of Philadelphia is of the highest quality of design possible and that the many individual pieces that make up the physical City fit together to make a strong whole so that the City remains a vital and desirable place to live, do business and visit.
Section 5-903 of the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter states the Art Commission’s current responsibilities and jurisdiction. These include review and approval of specific street fixtures and encroachments in the Streets section as well as signs and building design in certain zoning categories and districts. If the Art Commission fails to act upon any matter submitted to it within sixty days after submission, its approval shall be presumed.
Art Commission meetings are open to the public and typically held on the first Wednesday of every month. Applicants should review the submission requirements and contact Art Commission staff early in the design process in order to determine an appropriate submission and review schedule.