Students Spruce Up Street Corners with Imaginative Works of Art

June 10, 2016

Philadelphia’s drab utility boxes get a facelift from talented artists


William Doyle BFA '16 (Illustration)


Students at the University of the Arts are bringing public art to the sidewalks of Center City’s Washington Square West neighborhood once again this spring. As part of an independent design project, students created original illustrations that transform the area’s drab, brown street-corner utility boxes into works of public art. The designs were printed on vinyl coverings and fitted to the boxes. The installation process on 18 new boxes began in May in coordination with the Washington Square West Civic Association.

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Left: Cordelia Urquhart BFA '16 (Illustration); right: Lindsey Gil '19 (Illustration)

This year, 14 students signed up to participate in the challenge, which has been a success with the Wash West community in previous years when a number of the boxes were similarly decorated. The popularity and high visibility of the colorful boxes raised awareness for the project and increased participation in 2016. The students developed their designs based on the environment immediately surrounding each box, including architecture, commercial signage, tree and plant life, surface patterns, light and shadow.

“This project gives us the opportunity to transform something intentionally monotonous into something vibrant and compelling with the addition of color,” said William Doyle (pictured at top), a 2016 UArts Illustration graduate who designed three utility boxes this year. “I’ve been a big fan of the project since the installations began to pop up in previous years; it’s a great way for students to receive exposure for their art.”

Left: Kailey Whitman BFA '16 (Illustration); right: William Doyle BFA '16 (Illustration)

Approval for the installations comes from the City of Philadelphia Department of Streets and the Philadelphia Art Commission. The project is funded by the University of the Arts and the Washington Square West Civic Association.

People visiting the Washington Square West neighborhood will be able to easily view the students’ work at the following intersections:

13th Street and Pine Street
8th Street and Pine Street
7th Street and Pine Street
13th Street and Lombard Street
12th Street and Lombard Street
11th Street and Lombard Street
9th Street and Lombard Street
8th Street and Lombard Street
12th Street and Locust Street
9th Street and Locust Street
8th Street and Locust Street
13th Street and South Street
12th Street and South Street
9th Street and South Street
8th Street and South Street
9th Street and Spruce Street
Broad Street and Pine Street
(Outside Wash West, special request from UArts President David Yager)