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Venice Island Performing Arts and Recreation Center

Philadelphia, PA
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Project Details

Bordered by the Schuylkill River and Canal in Philadelphia’s Manayunk neighborhood, Venice Island was the site of several 19th century manufacturing mills. The new Venice Island Performing Arts and Recreation Center recalls an industrial aesthetic reminiscent of the former mills. BKP’s design juxtaposes an industrial exterior – cast-in-place concrete, precast exposed-aggregate concrete panels, metal fascia and roof – with a 250-seat jewel-box theater clad in warm maple panels with rich accent colors. Designed for and with local residents’ involvement and to support community recreation and larger environmental goals, the venue includes the performing arts center plus outdoor recreation amenities and playgrounds. The overall $46 million Venice Island project included sophisticated storm water management with a four-million gallon underground storage tank to alleviate past flooding on the site. In addition to designing the arts center, BKP collaborated with environmental engineers and landscape designers on comprehensive site planning to support functional, environmental, and recreational needs. As part of the project, BKP worked with the City of Philadelphia’s Percent for Art program to commission Masayuki Nagase to create, River of Life, a site-specific public artwork.

Media Coverage

Context, the Journal of AIA Philadelphia: Venice Island Transformation

Philadelphia Magazine: Venice Island Transformation Receives 2015 Groundbreaker Award

Philadelphia Magazine: Best of Philly 2015 Urban Space Transformation

Curbed Philadelphia: Maple-Clad Venice Island Performing Arts Center is Gorgeous

Click to watch video of the sustainable, community-focused project:

6ABC Philadelphia: Manayunk gets $46 million makeover

Montgomery News Roxborough Review: Venice Island officially opens

Read about the opening celebrations:

Curbed Philadelphia: Venice Island Merges Utility, Creativity and Entertainment

The Daily Pennsylvanian: A Recap in Photos: Venice Island Performing Arts and Recreation Center Opening

The Philadelphia Tribune: Officials cut ribbon for new watershed rec center

Philadelphia Magazine: Venice Island is Reborn!

Hidden City Philadelphia: Viva Venice

  • Client

    City of Philadelphia Department of Parks & Recreation

  • Cost

    $3.2 million

  • Size

    8,000 square feet

  • Honors

    2016 Urban Land Institute Rouse Award for Excellence
    2015 Delaware Valley Green Building Council Groundbreaker Award

Images © Jonathan Kolbe

“It will be a destination spot for a lot of people who have been wanting something new and different for the community.”