Bok Adds Six New Tenants, Immersive Art Exhibit

The art installation, Vacant America, opens Friday and features items from the old Bok Technical High School.

Photo Courtesy of Klip Collective

Photo Courtesy of Klip Collective

The former Bok Technical High School — now just known as “Bok” and owned by Scout Ltd., added six new tenants and an immersive temporary art exhibit this week.

The building is at just over 10 percent occupancy of its approximately 216,000 square feet of leasable space, Liz Maillie, leasing manager for Scout Ltd. told Philadelphia magazine.

The new tenants include the Garces Foundation, Top Banana Printing, Revival Letterpress, Philly Security Shell and a furniture design company, Milder Office.

Maillie said 72 percent of Bok’s new tenants either live in or have moved from another space in South Philly and that the organization expects many other tenants in the near future.

It’s all part of Scannapieco’s plan to repurpose the school building, which closed in 2013 (along with 23 other public schools) amid financial cutbacks. Now, she wants to make the 1901 S. 9th St. building into a “creative center” by opening it up to artists and various organizations and businesses.

As Bok’s new tenants set up for shop, the building will open to the public for its latest pop-up event, an immersive art installation titled Vacant America.

The exhibit, by Klip Collective artists Josh James and Ricardo Rivera, will fill the school’s former gym with light displays and large-scale video projections in an effort to “capture the history and tangible memories contained in the former school,” according to the event page.

Conrad Benner of Streets Dept got the first look, and it’s pretty impressive. The exhibit features items from the school (lots of desk chairs, stacked impressively) and audio interviews with alumni and former school staff, broadcast through the old gym’s loudspeakers.

Whether it goes over better than the building’s pop-up rooftop restaurant Le Bok Fin — which attracted its fair share of controversy from denouncers, supporters, selfie-lovers, and those in between while it was open last summer — remains to be seen. Maillie said the Le Bok Fin pop-up will not return to Bok this year, but loose plans are in the works for a permanent rooftop bar, possibly opening this summer.

Vacant America will  run through July on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. The entrance to the exhibit is on Mifflin Street across from the Southwark School parking lot.

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