Pop Top: Partnership transforms vacant lot into Pop Up Beer Garden

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A vacant lot filled with discarded materials can be quite an eyesore. But if that lot is beautifully landscaped — and if those discarded materials consist of pallets up-cycled into terraced seating and shipping containers repurposed into a bar and a local food stand — that lot can become something beautiful. For the third summer in a row, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) has transformed a neglected space in Center City into a lush and inviting Pop Up Garden. This year, PHS partnered with University of the Arts, Four Corners Management (FCM) and Groundswell Design Group to transform a vacant lot across from the Kimmel Center into a Pop Up Beer Garden, providing cool shade during the day and serving as a hot, local nightspot once the sun goes down.

“We wanted visitors to view the garden as a destination, a place to spend time with friends and enjoy their surroundings,” says PHS executive director Drew Becher. “After seeing the amazing work that Four Corners Management and Groundswell Design Group did at Morgan’s Pier, we knew they could bring an exciting element and guest experience to the PHS Pop Up Garden. The final step was acquiring Garces Group, whose picnic-inspired menu is a perfect fit for the space.”

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The Pop Up Beer Garden will be open through October 13, then the repurposed materials will be repurposed once again. The structures will be reused by PHS for their fall events. The plant material will be returned to PHS Meadowbrook Farm and other locations. And the pallet seating, tables, chairs and shipping containers will be reused by FCM and Groundswell Design Group for future projects.

Don’t worry, though — the Pop Up Garden will be back somewhere else next year. “PHS intends to pop up again next spring in a new location, and will also continue its work cleaning and greening vacant lots across Philadelphia,” says Becher. “If anyone has great ideas for where they would like to see the 2014 PHS Pop Up Garden, we always welcome suggestions via the PHS Facebook and Twitter pages.”

PHS Pop Up Beer Garden, 313 S. Broad St. Visit phsonline.org/greening/pop-up-gardens for more information. 

Story byJon McGoran