Wintergarden Gift Exchange at Dilworth Park - Connect The Dots Insights
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Wintergarden Gift Exchange at Dilworth Park


Center City District Business Improvement District (BID)


Executive Summary:

Center City District, one of Philadelphia’s largest BID districts, asked Connect the Dots to better understand user needs and wants in order to  inform the design and programming of their upcoming redesign of Dilworth Park’s seasonal green space, the Winter Garden. The team developed a playful winter-themed pop-up to anchor the consultation process – which included a series of interactive conversations over hot chocolate (‘Have a Cuppa and a Chat’), reimagined colorful intercept survey postcards for all ages, ethnographic observation, point-in-time counts, and other interactive opportunities including a custom-made selfie frame. Through this multi-layered methodology, over 600 responses were gathered and analyzed, leading to 20 key recommendations for improving engagement, wayfinding, usage, and design of the Wintergarden space, many of which have since been implemented.


Purpose & Scope:

Connect the Dots developed and facilitated interactive and observational tactics to learn about the current usage and future possibilities of the Wintergarden.

  • Connect the Dots designed a winter-themed pop-up called the Wintergarden Gift Exchange, where attendees were encouraged to provide feedback in exchange for hot chocolate, tote bags, and use of a custom-made selfie frame. 
  • Multiple feedback methods were intentionally used to match the different amounts of time visitors would be able to give; a short postcard intercept survey for 1 minute interactions, a longer colorful and accessible paper survey for 5 minute interactions, and the option to have an in-depth conversation, a ‘Cuppa and a Chat’ over hot cocoa.  The postcard survey was also set away from the core pop up tent to enable more introverted people to provide insights without having to interact with the facilitators.
  • To gain insights into the behaviors and activities of visitors, CTD also employed ethnographic observation and Use Mapping, documenting their travel around the area, frequency of types of interactions, and timing of usage.
  • After the holiday season, CTD returned with a modified methodology (of only intercept surveys and on-site observations) to evaluate the use of the Wintergarden during non-holiday weeks..


Project Outcomes:

Connect the Dots’ participatory research enabled Center City District to make informed decisions around the future of their public space. 

The interactive research methods employed in this study collected insights from over 600 survey responses, 30 hours of on-site engagement, 3 weeks of direct observations, and 90 minutes of timelapse footage. These methods revealed qualitative feedback on topics such as safety, entertainment, and use of space, as well as demographic information like place of residence and distance traveled to attend the event. 

  • Reach: Thousands passing through the Christmas Market
  • Engagement: 600+ respondents 

Based on these insights, the team made 20 key recommendations to improve engagement, usage, and design of the Wintergarden. The Center City District implemented many of these recommendations in subsequent iterations of the Wintergarden, including improved wayfinding, increased local programming, and changes to spatial design.