2015 Celebration! — Building the City

Dr. Benjamin Franklin and Laurie D. Olin


Philadelphia in Franklin's era was known as the Athens of the New World. As master builders and carpenters erected homes ranging from simple to elaborate, Franklin turned his attention to safety features that were both useful and practical helping to provide the infrastructure for this growing metropolis. Through his Pennsylvania Gazette he stressed the need for a better water supply, urged the formation of fire companies, and suggested the paving and lighting of streets. In his private time he created the Franklin stove and his experiments with electricity gave rise to the lightning rod.

On January 16, 2015, the Franklin Birthday Celebration presented the Franklin Founders Award to Laurie D. Olin in recognition of his lifetime work in landscape design and urban planning. In 2013, Mr. Olin received the National Medal of Arts. His work through his firm, The Olin Studio, has helped make Philadelphia a more livable and successful city — a shining reflection of Dr. Franklin’s commitment to the improvement of civic life.

The 2015 Philadelphia Celebration included a free morning seminar on the topic of Building the City from 9-10:30 at Benjamin Franklin Hall, 427 Chestnut Street featuring:

  • Dr. Sandra L. Tatman, Executive Director of The Athenaeum of Philadelphia
  • Paul R. Levy, President and CEO of the Central Philadelphia Development Corp.
  • Harris M. Steinberg, FAIA, Executive Director of the Lindy Institute for Urban Innovation, Drexel University

At 11am, a procession up 5th Street, left from The American Philosophical Society Library (105 S. Fifth Street) to Dr. Franklin’s grave was followed by a luncheon from 11:45-2 honoring Mr. Olin, at the Wyndham Philadelphia Historic District, 400 Arch Street.