Envisioning the Future: The Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center Looks Forward

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Next Friday evening, I'll be taking part in an event that thrills me—the jurying of a charrette designed to help shape the future of the Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center.  Some nineteen storytellers—fine artists, museum designers, theatrical performers, lighting, media, and sound experts—are gathering from across the nation to participate in a conversation about this 200-year-old gem's future.  What are the continuing possibilities for a building through which the river literally runs?  How might new space be adapted to teach the thousands of people who tour the Water Works each year about where water goes, how watersheds work, and what happens when the built environment foils Nature's plans?  Who are the constituents for a treasure like this, and how might those numbers be expanded?

I've known Karen Young, the executive director of the Water Works, ever since my story of the Schuylkill, Flow, was published by Temple University Press.  I've heard, from her, about how her unique institution has gathered momentum, reaching out to more than 2,000 school children this past summer alone, and 40,000 visitors annually.  I know how dedicated she is to the life of this city, and how much vision lives within her two very lovely eyes.  This will be, in short, a terrific event.

Among those who have been invited to the charrette are designers and thinkers who have participated in the shaping of the Academy of Natural Sciences, the Franklin Institute, the Mutter Museum, the Children's Museum of Manhattan, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, the Smithsonian, Monticello, the University of Pennsylvania, Longwood Gardens, the Smithsonian African American Museum of History and Culture, the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, the Canadian Children's Museum, the Chemical Heritage Foundation, and Hidden City Philadelphia. 

I'm lucky to be joining the grand jury that will meet at the day's end.

Look for more on this event—here and elsewhere—soon.


Elizabeth Mosier said...

Oh, this is such a great idea -- and honor! Triply glad you wrote that beautiful book!

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