PhilaU Architecture Students Win Third Place in Better Philadelphia Challenge


The team’s project, “Connect Philly,” envisioned the Rail Park tunnel through multiple tiers of connection.

A team including two Philadelphia University architecture students earned third place in the Better Philadelphia Challenge, an international competition that seeks solutions in urban design.

The Center for Architecture and Design challenged students from around the world to envision the tunnel portion of Philadelphia’s planned Rail Park as a public space for pedestrians and cyclists. A major part of the challenge focused on creatively approaching lighting in a dark tunnel.

The team included fifth-year PhilaU architecture students Jason Trutner and Stephanie Dudak, as well as Drexel University students Michael Koerner and Eliza Fredette, who are part of the MEDstudio@JEFF at Thomas Jefferson University (TJU).

PhilaU associate provost Susan Frostén and Peter Lloyd Jones, director of MEDstudio@JEFF and associate dean of emergent design and creative technologies at TJU, served as faculty advisers to the team.

“Although the four students have different disciplinary backgrounds, their ability to communicate and collaborate towards a common goal was remarkable and an energizing experience for me and Peter,” Frostén said.

PhilaU’s focus on innovation and collaboration proved to be critical to the project’s success, Trutner said. “The University prepared us to work in an environment that required rapid decision making between multiple teammates, as we had no time to second guess ourselves.”

The team’s project, “Connect Philly,” envisioned the Rail Park tunnel through multiple tiers of connection. “It was critical to have bike and pedestrian access, which set up a linear design scheme consisting of an elevated bike lane on one side of the tunnel, a walking/running lane on the opposite side and a central space of programming along the length of the tunnel,” Dudak said. “The central space would have a series of locally designed art/sculpture installations to act as both wayfinding to users inside and above the tunnel and as an icon by which we could start integrating interactive elements.”

Natalie Nixon, director of PhilaU’s Strategic Design MBA, served as one of the competition jurors.

The presentation of winning entries and awards ceremony will take place Wednesday, March 8.

Read more about PhilaU’s project here.

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