LOVE Park reopens after renovations

Love it or hate it, one of Philadelphia’s most famed parks celebrated its grand re-opening Wednesday.

Mayor Kenney, City Council President Darrell L. Clarke, and others marked LOVE Park’s return with a ribbon-cutting ceremony that also featured food, music, and more. Renovations to flatten the park — once known as a skateboarding hub — as well as add green space and a new water fountain began in February 2016.

It’s been a slow return for what is officially known as John F. Kennedy Plaza, which had delays during the $26 million renovation process. The LOVE statue by artist Robert Indiana, who recently died at the age of 89, was reinstalled in February after undergoing its own facelift.

Here’s a look at the new park and scenes from Wednesday’s reopening:

Camera icon MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer
A game of ping-pong at one of the two new tables, complete with balls and paddles, at LOVE Park.

The conical fountain was turned on in LOVE Park as part of the dedication ceremony.

Camera icon MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer
Rodrick Pfifer of BalletX dances to music in front of the fountains of water.

The festivities continued into the evening with a fund-raising event featuring DJ Jazzy Jeff hosted by Friends of LOVE Park.

Despite its just-reopened status, the park has already faced criticism for its wide, flat design. Inquirer architecture critic Inga Saffron called the space a “granite Sahara.”

“The new LOVE Park is a sanded-down version of the old LOVE Park, its rough edges removed and reduced to a generic, two-dimensional drawing,” Saffron wrote in April.

>> READ MORE: LOVE Park was supposed to be the People’s Park. How did it end up as a granite Sahara? | Inga Saffron

>> READ MORE: New LOVE Park is graceless instead of gritty; is that the kind of Philly we want to live in? | Opinion

Social media users have also voiced complaints about the redesigned park.

There are more events in store for the park. The city is planning on a busy summer lineup, with concerts, table games, food trucks at the park, Parks and Recreation Commissioner Kathryn Ott Lovell told the Inquirer and Daily News last month.