Building Updates

Philadelphia Contemporary aims to create a stunning building that will be accessible and attractive to the surrounding communities, the city at large, and national and international cultural communities. It will operate as a civic catalyst providing multiple forms of engagement from social gatherings to experiments with young artists to world-class exhibitions.

Check this page for updates on the building process.

+ FAQ

Why does Philadelphia Contemporary need a building?
Philadelphia Contemporary wants a home for a number of reasons.  One of them is pure practicality—it’s easier to mount exhibitions in a dedicated space. While public art will always be central to our mission, a building makes continuous programming and community engagement possible. We envision the building facilitating a greater sense of connection and resonance around our projects. Philadelphia Contemporary is based on the idea that the museum should be reinterpreted as a resource for its community, other institutions, and the larger cultural ecology locally, nationally, and internationally.

We believe that a new space will contribute to a more resilient cultural infrastructure in Philadelphia, which is currently the only major American city that does not have an independent museum dedicated exclusively to contemporary art in its many forms. Bringing a collaborative, welcoming institution to Philadelphia, we seek to expand opportunities for local practitioners and engage the city through a strong community presence, a robust education program, and a vigorous curatorial approach. Philadelphia Contemporary’s building will be an independent, freestanding, visual and performance art space: non-collecting, multidisciplinary, and exploratory.

What will your building be like?
Philadelphia Contemporary aims to create a stunning building that will be accessible and attractive to the surrounding communities, the city at large, and national and international cultural communities. It will operate as a civic catalyst providing multiple forms of engagement from social gatherings to experiments with young artists to world-class exhibitions. The building and site will have an appropriate and sustainable scale for the mission and institutional vision.

Conceived and built for a collaborative and interdisciplinary program, our building will accommodate a wide range of art forms, exhibition concepts, and community uses. Designed by Johnston Marklee with MGA Partners as Architect of Record, our building will be sustainable, inviting, and responsive to the surrounding environment.

Why Johnston Marklee?  
The result of an extensive search organized by DVDL Design Decisions, the selection of Johnston Marklee was made by a 14-member jury including local community leaders, city officials, and members of the arts, design, and poetry communities. Read more about our jury below.

Of twenty domestic firms presented to the jury, five were shortlisted based on their experience with public interest design, cultural and education projects, and flexible design projects. Presentations by each of the five firms incorporated an overview their general work, initial design directions for Philadelphia Contemporary, and answers to the question, “What is the look and feel of cultural institutions of the future?” The jury evaluated each presentation based on the designs’ potential for visitor experience, flexibility, and consideration of urban context.

Johnston Marklee has received more than 30 major awards for their residential, commercial, and institutional work. With notable cultural projects under their belt including the recently opened Menil Collection in Houston, Johnston Marklee showed a commitment to challenging traditional museum paradigms and designing a building with the public in mind.

Where can I see images of the building’s design?  
We are currently in the conceptual design phase of the building process. Renderings of the final design will be available in late 2019.

+ Architecture Jury

Philadelphia Contemporary’s Architecture Jury is a group of fourteen experts who represent the neighboring communities, the City of Philadelphia, the design community, the arts community, museum professionals, the institution, and its funders. The jury plays an active role in all parts of the selection and design process, and helped Philadelphia Contemporary decide on a final architect.

+ Consultants

Expert consultants assisted the Architecture Jury in its decision-making process during the jury meetings in a non-voting capacity.

October 29, 2018

Philadelphia Contemporary is pleased to announce the selection of Johnston Marklee as Design Architects, working in association with MGA Partners as Architect of Record, for its future permanent home. The decision is the culmination of an extensive search by a 14-member jury including community leaders, city officials, and members of the arts, design, and spoken word communities.

Johnston Marklee, based in Los Angeles and founded by partners Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee, has received more than 30 major awards for their residential, commercial, and institutional work.

“We envision Philadelphia Contemporary to be a model for the twenty-first-century museum wherein there are no boundaries between art and the public,” said Johnston Marklee partner Sharon Johnston, FAIA. “It will be an environment to stage events, from ephemeral spoken word performances to traditional, large-scale exhibitions; a social space for interaction; and a safe space for repose.”

Press Release