Vare Recreation Center

Vare Recreation Center is MTWB’s fourth and largest park project to date. Located at 26th and Morris Streets in the Grays Ferry neighborhood of South Philly, Vare has been a pivotal public space and home away from home for its community for over 100 years. 

Starting in 2019, MTWB began laying the foundation for the project via a series of community engagement and design activities that were intended to ensure that the Vare community played a meaningful role in every phase of the project. These activities and events included a project kick-off event; relationship building with community members through visits to practices and programs; Vare Studio – a research and archiving project in partnership with Philadelphia Photo Arts Center (PPAC) and Monument Lab – to collect, preserve, and share photographic and oral histories of Vare Recreation Center; and design workshops where community members shared priorities, goals, and themes for the new site design and building. 

While the design phase and associated budgeting process encountered some delays, the end result was a substantial increase in the project budget which ended up at approximately $20 million! In the spring of 2022, MTWB and its partners broke ground on the project which is now in the construction phase and slated to be completed in the Fall of 2023. 

The Vare Project is being achieved through the City’s Rebuild Initiative, in partnership with Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, and Philadelphia City Council. Improvements are made possible by the Philadelphia Beverage Tax.




Ralph Brooks Park

MTWB’s first project at Ralph Brooks Park was a multi-faceted neighborhood revitalization project with a focus on providing a safe, engaging space for youth and adults in Point Breeze, South Philadelphia. The rehabilitation and expansion of Ralph Brooks Park continues to serve as a catalyst and hub for neighborhood renewal and inter-generational engagement, both through the development process and ongoing use and stewardship of the park.

The rehabilitation of the existing park included improvements to the basketball court, tot lot, pedestrian access points, as well as the addition of a rain garden and subsurface green stormwater infrastructure in accordance with PWD’s Green Cities, Clean Waters initiative. Additionally, MTWB worked with city officials to convert seven other lots along the block to public use. These lots then became new community gardens as well as concessions, seating and storage space for the Ralph Brooks Park Community Basketball League. The site also features murals created by Steve “ESPO” Powers through the Mural Arts Program. The end result of the project is a network of recreational amenities inspired by the desires and needs of the community, working to promote athletics, safety, health, and the arts.