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Johnston Marklee to Design Philadelphia Contemporary’s First Permanent Home

Philadelphia Contemporary, the nonprofit arts organization founded by Harry Philbrick in 2016, announced that it has hired the Los Angeles–based architecture firm Johnston Marklee to design its first permanent home. The location of the building has yet to be revealed. The firm, which designed the Menil Drawing Institute in Houston, opening on November 3, will work with MGA Partners on the project.

“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. “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.” Johnston Marklee partner Mark Lee added: “Philadelphia Contemporary will facilitate cultural exchange in a manner that is inextricably woven into the fabric of the city.”

The selection jury included Richard Gluckman, architect and partner of Gluckman Tang; curator Mia Locks; Don Millinger, senior advisor at Philadelphia Contemporary; artist Pepón Osorio; Vaughn Ross, deputy chief of staff to Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney; Zoë Ryan, chair and curator of architecture and design at the Art Institute of Chicago; Nato Thompson, artistic director of the Philadelphia Contemporary; and Yolanda Wisher, curator of spoken word at Philadelphia Contemporary and the 2016–17 poet laureate of Philadelphia.

The final design for the institution’s new home will be announced in 2019. Philadelphia Contemporary will continue organizing pop-up programming while the space is being developed.