Organized as part of the 2016 DesignPhiladelphia festival, this exhibition presents twelve artists’ interpretations of bird houses for the meadows of Fairmount Park.

In urban park systems, meadows are designed with intention. They are carved out to create homes, or habitat, for a variety of beneficial pollinators including bees and butterflies. They are nurtured to attract and sustain a wide range of bird species, who feed on the plentiful insects through all four seasons. The meadows are prized as living landscapes that are low-cost to maintain and highly desirable for stormwater retention and re-charging of groundwater. Despite their multi-faceted value, they have been disappearing for decades as the region develops, magnifying their importance. Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, supported by the Fairmount Park Conservancy, ensures that these meadows thrive in our urban park system.

Next to historic Mount Pleasant Mansion is the 4.7 acre Mount Pleasant Meadow, seeded in 2009 and flourishing. Its subtle beauty shifts with the seasons and time of day, and an attentive walk through its midst will reveal insects and birds, small mammals and perhaps deer. It’s alive with nature, right here in the middle of the 5th largest city in the country.

We asked these artists to bring their voices to this critical aspect of urban parks and to see the value of these native plants as home to a wide array of bird species. We hope the artists’ work inspires Philadelphians to explore meadows, understand their role in a healthy ecosystem, and support their continued creation.

Meadow Mansions is part of a larger initiative to have artists engage with Philadelphia parks and their communities, supported by ArtPlace America and the William Penn Foundation. We are thrilled to work with these selected artists and to see their contributions enrich the Fairmount Park system.

installations in fairmount park

Following the exhibition debut of the Meadow Mansions at Mount Pleasant Mansion last October, the artist-designed bird houses were installed throughout East and West Fairmount Park in the spring of 2017. A map of the houses in their new permanent locations is in the works, so soon you’ll be able to visit them all – and hopefully catch a glimpse of an avian resident or two! Check back here for more information.


Go Nest, Young Duck (Manifest Nestiny)
Wood duck
Teak, metal fasteners

Kestrel Birdhouse
American kestrel
Mixed materials

Gone Unnoticed
Carolina chickadee
Cedar, pine, stain

Habitat lost, and gained
Tree swallow
Tyvek, various wood, construction debris

Tree swallow and Eastern bluebird
Locally-sourced lumber, natural pigments

Protector (for Extinct Carolina Parakeets and Others)
Carolina parakeet
Natural ‘birdhouse’ gourd, cast Apoxie Sculpt, acrylic paint, enamel paint, waterproofing spray, glue, hanging hardware

B.D.I.S. (Beacon, Defensive Improved Shelter)
Barred owl
Mixed materials

Comeback Home
Wood duck
Found materials, beaver fur, surveyor string, lumber

Real Tree
Tree swallow
Dried pear gourd, exterior acrylic/latex paint, wood, mounting hardware

Wrent Stabilized
Carolina wren
Clay, cement, wood

Tree Crystal
American kestrel
Cedar, latex paint, cardboard

Nothing here but a pile of boxes
Mourning dove
Wood, brown paper, acrylic paint, Hellman’s sealer


Abigail Satinsky

Project Partners

audubon pennsylvania

Audubon Pennsylvania’s mission is to conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife and their habitats for the benefit of humanity and the earth’s biological diversity in Pennsylvania. Through our efforts in the these areas at the state and chapter levels, Audubon Pennsylvania offers a comprehensive approach to conservation that achieves measurable results, including applying the best science and empowering citizen scientists and stewards, providing strong education programs and by promoting conservation policy.


As the oldest design festival of its kind in the country, DesignPhiladelphia highlights the work of thousands of local designers, architects, and creative professionals to demonstrate Philadelphia’s reemergence as a 21st century city shaped by thoughtful design, collaborative business practices, and community engagement.

Over the course of ten days each October, places such as universities, cultural institutions, civic associations, city agencies, retailers, manufacturers, and startups across the city participate in over 100 engaging events including panel discussions, fashion shows, participatory workshops, studio tours, book signings, professional development classes, design exhibitions, and imaginative celebrations.

philadelphia parks & recreation

Philadelphia Parks & Recreation focuses on preserving and enhancing existing green spaces while also expanding the amount of green, public space available in the City.