Design Week: Pearl St. Passage Recap


This weekend marked the end of a 7  month long design and construction project. Typically in 7 months were able to build a house, sell it and have a sweet party before anyone moves in.  This time we built a wall.

Pearl St.

But not just any wall.

It was a “selfless wall”. – I’ll explain more later, but first the event structure:

Design Philadelphia put  together kind of a design experiment, where teams made up of a design professional, a fabricator/builder, an artist and a design student were given  at 6’x20′ section of Pearl St, an alley between 11th and 12th just north of Callowhill to design something. It was called “Pearl St. Passage“, the kickoff event to design week. The prompt was to describe a “shift” you see in today’s society and design a thing that describes that shift.

Intentionally vague, but left up to interpretation. There were 10 teams in total participating and each came up with a drastically different concept.


We saw a shift in perspective happing in the world of selifes. The wall was really a new kind of selifie stick, one that showed more context and less you. Because let’s be honest the internet is made up of enough selfies, we figured it would be good to help people get some other content on there.

Posting images on the internet is kind of like recording history, and we’d like that history to be made up of more than large faces with new haircuts and duck lips. There was more to the world of 2015 than just that! Que “Selfless” wall construction montage.


Designing a single wall to accomplish this was by no means a simple task. It took the brilliance of a large scale architectural firm, Genlser, and the craft of an amazing painter, Serena Saunders and a bright eyed, on his game working student in Richard Vilabrera to pull it off. The team worked tirelessly and pushed through until completion. We can’t be thankful enough we had such talent to work with.


Overall the design and weekend on Pearl St. was a huge success. Our Installation was photographed, filmed, tagged and uploaded at least a couple dozen times. Check #SelflessPhilly #PearlStPassage #Selfless or #DesignPhilly on Instagram to see more pics!

We even made the header image and got a nice write up in Philly Voice along with a few other groups! But for more comprehensive event coverage, PlanPhilly touched on all teams with a short description of all the participants.

So what’s next for the team selfelss design? We’ll no one really knows. This installation may end of in one of several places, The Center for Architecture on Arch St perhaps? Gensler’s DC office may be interested also but we’re still open to ideas or interested parties. Happy to see it have a new home.

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What we do know is that the Pearl St. design experiment is by no means over. There is a documentary covering the design process were all very excited to see, filmed in a collaboration with  Urban Engineers, Design Philadelphia, The Center for Architecture, and Groudswell Design Group. There’s no telling what weird moments and ideas will make it through final editing. That’s slightly terrifying. So stay tuned for that. We’ll update again when we have more information on the release date.

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