Philadelphia Contemporary

Moor Mother, Stellar Mass 1. Photo by Rashid Zakat

Eiko Otake performing River Charette 1. Photo by Philadelphia Contemporary

Philadelphia Contemporary
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Museum/Cultural Institution

Philadelphia Contemporary brings visual art, performance art, and spoken word to Philadelphia through a dynamic model of collaboration and partnership. While most museums are primarily built around a nineteenth-century model of fixed architecture and twentieth-century definitions of programmatic categories, twenty-first-century audiences are increasingly seeking new models for engaging culture that prioritize innovation and flexibility.

Philadelphia Contemporary is a highly collaborative, flexible, welcoming, diverse, and accessible institution. The art center will be an independent freestanding visual and performance space: non-collecting, multidisciplinary, and exploratory. The project is currently in design development.

After an extensive research and search process with DVDL, Johnston Marklee was announced as design firm for this project in October 2018. They are working in association with MGA Partners as architects of record. The selection process centered around a fourteen-member jury composed of representatives from Philadelphia Contemporary, the City of Philadelphia, the local community, and the arts and design community.

At the center of the search, which resulted in a longlist of twenty domestic firms, a five-firm shortlist, and three finalists, was an open question: What is the future of cultural institutions? Firms shortlisted and selected as finalists were compensated for their work. Besides  Johnston Marklee, the finalists were  KieranTimberlake  from Philadelphia, PA and  Ultramoderne  from Providence, RI.

“In 2017, we contracted David van der Leer to lead our design selection process for a new, dynamic, multi-disciplinary art center in Philadelphia. Not only did David create a world-class search process that was all about getting to know people and their design skills, he helped us develop an exceptionally creative program brief, and a series of trips that helped mobilize funding and strategy and gave us new insights into what we wanted from our building. David’s contributions are so valuable that we have retained DVDL DD to consult with us during the actual design process.”–Harry Philbrick, Founding Director, Philadelphia Contemporary

Cultural Forecasting

– Forecasting through qualitative and quantitative research
– Research workshops and events

Institutional and Program Strategies

– Leadership Reference Trips to explore reference projects nationally
– Program development (including mission and vision development)

Design Process Development

– Space program development
– Design brief development
– Advice on team structuring
– Selection process development (Invitational competition)
– Jury and Advisory Committee development
– Vision and program refinement with designers and clients
– Design reviews and guidance
– Intermediary services with core consultants on design issues

Jane Irish, Antipodes. Photo by Philadelphia Contemporary