The Philadelphia Design Center (PDC), a project of the Making Homes for the Arts in Sacred Places program, was created to serve Philadelphia’s diverse design talent while also helping to revitalize a historic community landmark, the Queen Memorial building in Gray’s Ferry. From April 2016 until August of 2019, PDC increased access to the latest technology in a beautiful space at an affordable cost. Partners work was one piece of a larger adaptive reuse project spearheaded by community-focused developers who were interested in keeping the building intact and providing creative homes for Philadelphia-based visual artists.

Originally envisioned as a communal workshop and meeting space for theatrical designers, PDC was the creative home for a wide variety of makers, artists, designers, producers and hobbyists. Our Digital Lab was sponsored by Vectorworks and included:

  • 10 Mac Workstations; 3 Wacom Tablets; Large Format Scanner; Color Plotter and B&W Printer
  • Software: Vectorworks Designer, Spotlight, & Renderworks, Adobe Creative Cloud full services, MS Office, Ableton LIVE 10, and Lightwright

Our Textile Studio included:

  • 2 Singer Sewing Machines; 1 Juki Serger; 2 irons; 2 Professional Grade Steamers; Multiple Wig Heads and Body Forms; Fabric Dyeing Equipment; Washer & Dryer
  • Large Custom Built Cutting Table and Private Dressing Room

PDC hosted very flexible membership plans. Our members could roll on/off on a month to month basis and were given a discount if they committed to multiple months up front. Our membership numbers fluctuated over the years but the impact on the community was city-wide. Here is a partial list of those organizations and institutions impacted by PDC’s presence in the community:

  • 11th Hour Theatre Company
  • 1812 Productions
  • Almanac Dance Circus Theatre
  • Arden Theatre Company
  • Art Reach
  • Azuka Theatre
  • The Bearded Ladies Cabaret
  • Curio Theatre Company
  • Delaware Shakespeare Festival
  • Drexel University
  • EgoPo Classic Theatre Productions
  • First Person Arts
  • Friends Central School
  • Fringe Arts
  • Girls Rock Philly
  • Johnny Showcase & the Mystic Ticket
  • Headlong Dance Theatre
  • InterAct Theatre Company
  • Inis Nua Theatre Company
  • Lantern Theater Company
  • Lighting Rod Special
  • Longwood Gardens
  • Lower Merion High School
  • Nichole Canuso Dance Company
  • Ocean City Theatre Company
  • Opera Philadelphia
  • Orbiter 3
  • People’s Light & Theatre Company
  • Philadelphia Asian Performing Artists
  • Philadelphia Contemporary
  • Pig Iron Theatre Company
  • PlayPenn
  • Shakespeare in Clark Park
  • Simpatico Theatre
  • Team Sunshine Performance Corp.
  • The Crossing
  • The Philadelphia Thing
  • The University of the Arts
  • Theatre Horizon
  • Theatre Philadelphia
  • William Way LGBTQ Center

Thanks to a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, PDC hosted a 12-month Residency Program as a unique free opportunity for emerging designers to gain access to invaluable resources that assisted them in furthering their growing careers. Grounded in community support, our interdisciplinary program gave five talented emerging designers increased access to design technology, tools, and space — essential parts of the design process but often too-expensive for hopeful designers to afford on their own.

1912 Philadelphia Design Center in Hope Presbyterian Church’s Queen Memorial's former library.

1912 Philadelphia Design Center in Hope Presbyterian Church’s Queen Memorial’s former library.

PDC Residents had freedom to produce self-directed work, explore new paths, and develop new skills in a supportive, communal, and creative environment. PDC Residents also taught a number of classes free to the public over the course of their 12 months.

Partners for Sacred Places supported the transition of PDC from the Queen Building to Headlong Dance Theatre in July and August of 2019. By August, all of PDC’s equipment, furnishings, and tools were moved into Headlong’s two sites of operation: one in South Philly and the other on S. Broad Street close to Center City. Partners was also able to assist Headlong in renewing Vectorworks commitment to PDC, including 12 new Macintosh computers and updated drafting software.

Press at the Design Center’s opening April 2016