What Could the Athenaeum of Philadelphia Look Like in 2050?

Conceptual design proposals seek to answer the question, "What might a mid-21st century Athenaeum look like?"

Winning professional proposal by Stanev Architects, Courtesy The Athenaeum of Philadelphia

Winning professional proposal by Stanev Architects, Courtesy The Athenaeum of Philadelphia

The Athenaeum of the Future–while it may sound like a pitch for a bygone World’s Fair, it was actually the topic of a recent conceptual design competition open to students and professionals in celebration of the library/museum’s 200th anniversary.  Winners of the “Looking forward: Re-imagining the Athenaeum of Philadelphia” competition were recently announced, and let’s just say that the location of the  “timeless” building at South 6th Street and Saint James Court overlooking Washington Square could look a lot different in the year 2050, the focus year of the competition.

According to the outline of the competition, the scene is this: the historic Athenaeum was recently disassembled, moved and then re-assembled in Fairmount Park. Conceptual design proposals for the the corner, now an imaginary vacant lot, “must re-imagine” the Athenaeum without its historic building while incorporating the future of libraries and museums in 2050–that’s pretty heavy stuff, Doc.

Taking first place in the professional realm was a proposal entitled Philadelphia Grotesque Revisited–pictured above. Submitted by a team of Ryan Lohbauer, Petra Stanev, Elizabeth Keshet, Melissa Styer and Chun Wang of Philadelphia’s Stanev Potts Architects, the goal of this proposal was “A continuation of the unique, experimental architectural expression that flourished in Philadelphia in the second half of the 19th century.”

On the student submission side, András Vernes of Technische Universität Wien in Vienna, Austria took first place. You can take a look at the full project statement here.

An exhibition of the proposals is currently on display at the Athenaeum at 219 South 6th Street through February 14, 2015, including a series of “Gallery Talk” events. Also, the winners will briefly present their proposals on Saturday, January 24, 2015 at 3 p.m. For more information, visit the Athenaeum’s “Looking Forward” website.

Winning Proposals of “Looking Forward” Visualize the Future Athenaeum of Philadelphia [Arch Daily]

Looking Forward: Prizes and Results [Athenaeum]