Square the Circle

Per the Borough Comprehensive Plan, Council is 2022 began a project to reimagine the area currently known as Station Circle as “Town Square” in an initiative we are calling “Square the Circle”.  On this page you can find updates and relevant materials to this project.  

Borough Council has assigned an internal team consisting of the Borough Manager (Samantha Bryant, sbryant@narberthpa.gov), Councilmember Bob Weisbord (bweisbord@narberthpa.gov), and Planning Commission members David Brawer, Jim Cornwell, and Jim Speer to lead this project.  In addition, following a competitive bid process, the Borough selected Simone Collins to provide professional support to the team.  Please feel free to email Samantha and/or Bob with any comments or questions on the project.


The first step was a series of three meetings with the public to get initial feedback on what elements and uses they would like to see in Town Square.  Recordings of those meetings can be found below.

Meeting 1: April 20, 2022

Link to Meeting Video

Slideshow of Participant Comment Cards

Summary of Participant Comments

Meeting 2: May 4, 2022

Link to Meeting Video

Summary of Suggested Features

Design Thoughts Provided by the Borough’s Public Works Manager

Meeting 3: May 25, 2022

Simone Collins Presentation for Meeting 3

*Link to meeting advertisement post: Square the Circle Charrette

Since then, the internal team has been meeting with Simone Collins and interested members of Council to develop Town Square alternatives for public review.  Recordings of these meetings can be found below.

Building Committee Meeting: June 30, 2022

Link to Meeting Video

Analysis and Initial Concept Review

Building Committee Meeting: August 30, 2022

Link to Meeting Video

Committee guidance


To help pay for project design beyond the basic site plan Simone Collins is working on, Council authorized applications for state funding (through the PA Department of Community and Economic Development Multimodal Transportation Fund) as well as federal funding (through the Reconnecting Communities Pilot).  We expect to receive a funding decision on both grants in 1Q 2023.  Those grant applications can be found below:

RCP Grant

MTF application

The Borough expects a public presentation regarding design options for Town Square at the December 1, 2022 Borough Council Work Session (which is an open public meeting).


Presentations:

Temple University, Tyler School of Art and Architecture
Department of Architecture and Environmental Design
LARC 3145, Landscape Architecture Design Studio III

Students pursuing a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture degree at Temple University enroll in LARC 3145, Landscape Architecture Design Studio III, in fall of their junior year. The studio course typically focuses on open space or park design, particularly at a small scale so that students can design with specific materials in mind. Additionally, students read and attempt to implement ideas from The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces by William H. Whyte, and The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs, as well as more current, related readings. Students validate information presented in Whyte by taking a walking tour of local open spaces in Philadelphia, measuring elements and spaces, observing and noting environmental characteristics and how people interact with them.

After becoming aware of a summer 2018 questionnaire conducted by the Montgomery County Planning Commission that inquired of residents’ desires for the future use of Narberth’s Station Circle, Rob Kuper, Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture (and Nearb), created a survey of and directed students’ focus toward a potential redesign of the space. The site is well defined by buildings, accessible by train, centrally located in a vibrant commercial area along a well-traveled vehicular and pedestrian way. Events in Narberth occur throughout the year. Currently, moving and parked cars dominate the site. The center of the circle possesses some amenities for people (fixed, immovable benches and tables) and receives much sun. There appeared to be an implied desire to reimagine Narberth’s Station Circle as a place for people and community. We sought to investigate some of the possibilities.

Fall 2018

Students enrolled this semester conducted a site inventory and analysis that included events that affect vehicular circulation and use of streets for pedestrians in Narberth (e.g., Memorial Day Parade, Arts Festivals), detailed land use (i.e., hours of operation and location), views, pedestrian circulation in and around the circle, existing furnishings and materials, parking and vehicular circulation, existing vegetation, and existing topography. Students devised a program based upon the site analysis, along with several design concepts, from which they selected and developed one. During the process, members of the Narberth Borough Council and Civic Association offered feedback, which students incorporated into their designs. Designs vary primarily in the ways in which vehicular circulation (e.g., trash trucks) from behind buildings on Haverford Avenue exit.

Fall 2019

Students enrolled in LARC 3145 this semester reviewed the site inventory and analysis from fall 2018. Thereafter, they visited local precedents that could be applicable in some way to designs for Station Circle. Precedents included Spruce Street Harbor Park, RiverRink Summerfest, The Porch at 30th Street Station, Suburban Square Courtyard, and the 40th Street Trolley Portal Gardens in University City. Following the release of the Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5C in fall 2018, Kuper began to grapple with how the profession of landscape architecture could reduce the carbon dioxide emissions of status quo landscape architectural designs to meet the recommendations of the IPCC. To address this, rather than pursuing business-as-usual designs, some students were assigned alternative design concepts that would inherently decrease embodied emissions of materials. One alternative was a “pop-up” design that required little to no physical transformation of existing conditions, but permitted people to use the space between Memorial Day and Halloween. A second alternative was a “hybrid” design, which required some permanent physical alterations to the site so that people could better utilize Station Circle between Memorial Day and Halloween. In the latter two cases, between Halloween and Memorial Day, cars may still park in and drive through Station Circle.