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Highlighting America's rich history of architectural experimentation and the original ways architects today are working collaboratively to invigorate community activism and environmental policy

Values


Into the Open: Philadelphia

A series of public programs exploring community-driven and institutional and approaches to civic engagement at the National Constitution Center and Slought

Fields of Knowledge
  • Comm. Development
  • Curatorial practice
  • Design
  • Health / Sustainability
  • Social Justice

Organizing Institutions

Slought, Parc Foundation, National Constitution Center

Contributing Institutions

The Architect's Newspaper

Organizers

William Menking, Aaron Levy, and Andrew Sturm

Contributors

Exhibit concept conceived with architects Teddy Cruz and Deborah Gans

Funders

Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, Robert Rubin and Stephane Samuel, Oldcastle Glass, others

Acknowledgments

Commissioned by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, U.S, Department of State, Washington, D.C.

Process initiated

05/15/2009

Opens to public

07/15/2009

Address

National Constitution Center
Independence Mall
Philadelphia, PA 19106

Slought
4017 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

On the web

intotheopen.org

Economy

50% Formal - 50% Informal

From July 15 to September 7, 2009, the National Constitution Center and Slought present Into the Open, an innovative exhibition featuring the work of 16 architectural groups. Through vibrant installations and displays, Into the Open explores the original ways architects are collaborating to foster civic engagement and build better communities. Immersive, bold, and interactive, the exhibition aims to inform, as well as encourage discussion and participation.

Chalkboard walls will line the exhibition, making it possible for visitors to share their comments, reactions, and ideas in response to the projects. In the interactive spirit of the exhibition, the Center will also engage the community by extending the exhibit experience outside the museum walls. The projects featured in the exhibition will be showcased at the National Constitution Center and Slought on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania. Additionally, off-site community programming related to the exhibition is planned, in partnership with local organizations. Into the Open debuted at the Venice Biennale in 2008 as the official United States representation, where it offered international audiences insight into the ways America's architects are reinventing public space.

"Philadelphia is proud to be the home of numerous civic organizations taking the lead in our nation's move towards sustainability and positive community engagement," said Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter. "This exhibition will highlight how individuals from all walks of life can play an integral role in creating transformative change."

"This provocative intersection of architecture and activism allows the Center to highlight the importance of civic engagement in the community," says National Constitution Center President and CEO Linda E. Johnson. "It is fitting that Into the Open will be displayed in Philadelphia, where the American experiment was born, and where the Center continues to promote the power of individuals to create positive change."

"This exhibition explores how local grassroots initiatives are generating new forms of social responsibility and activism. By highlighting America's rich history of architectural experimentation, we hope to define architecture not just as a physical infrastructure, but also as a social relationship," says Aaron Levy, Executive Director of Slought.

The National Constitution Center will feature eight of the 16 architectural projects, with the exhibition experience beginning on the Center's front lawn on Independence Mall, where visitors can pass through Estudio Teddy Cruz's 89-foot photo narrative of the U.S.-Mexico border. Cruz's fence installation explores the dynamics of urban conflict on both sides of the U.S. and Mexico border, from San Diego's affluence to homelessness in Tijuana.

Visitors will also encounter Alice Waters' Edible Schoolyard, part of the Yale Sustainable Food Project. Waters, a renowned chef, created this project in response to the lack of nutritious food served in California public schools. A model garden, located in front of the Center, will feature local seasonal vegetables and flowers. Campers attending the Center's American Adventure Summer Camp will help plant and tend to the garden throughout the summer. The Center's model garden is developed in partnership with The Agatston Urban Nutrition Initiative at the University of Pennsylvania and Pedal Co-Op. On display in the Center's Posterity Hall, visitors can view projects including the Hale County Animal Shelter by Rural Studio, Auburn University, The Subsidized Landscape by the Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP), Architecture and Justice: Million Dollars Blocks by the Spatial Information Design Lab/Laura Kurgan, The Floating Pool by Jonathan Kirschenfeld Associates, Sustainable Prototype for Greensburg, Kansas by Studio 804 and Heidelberg Street by The Heidelberg Project.

For the full exhibition experience, guests are encouraged to visit Slought on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania at 4017 Walnut Street in Philadelphia, where projects on display include Roll Out Houses by Gans Studio, Post-Consumed: The Landscape of Waste in Los Angeles by The Center for Land Use Interpretation, Panhandle Bandshell by Rebar, Migrant Housing and Bath House by Design Corps, The New Silk Road by Kyong Park/International Center for Urban Ecology, FireBreak by Detroit Collaborative Design Center, Row House Community Development by Project Row Houses, Merrimac Building by Smith and Others.

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Public Programs

The National Constitution Center and Slought will present a series of public programs to complement the Into the Open exhibition and to encourage community activism. These engaging, thought-provoking activities will take place at the Center and at non-traditional, urban settings throughout Philadelphia, with public programming partner the Community Design Collaborative.

Download a Calendar of Public Programs

A Vegetable Party
Friday, August 7, 12:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.

The public is invited to join in a celebration of edible education on Independence Mall. Visitors will learn about the origins of the food Americans consume, and the principles of modern ecology, as the Center showcases the efforts of local urban farmers, chefs, and activists who are working to inform students and the public about what we eat and where it comes from. This event is inspired by the work of Alice Waters and the Yale Sustainable Food Project. Waters, a renowned chef, created this project in response to the lack of nutritious food served in California public schools. As part of Into the Open, a model garden, located in front of the National Constitution Center, will feature local seasonal vegetables and flowers developed in local partnership with the Pedal Co-op and The Agatston Urban Nutrition Initiative at the University of Pennsylvania, with assistance from Slow Food USA. Additionally, Campers attending the Center's American Adventure Summer Camp help plant and tend to the garden throughout the summer.

Participants in the Vegetable Party include the Philadelphia Water Department, Metro Farming, PA Dept of Environ. Protection, The Food Trust, The Philadelphia Orchard Project, Infill Philadelphia, Pedal Co-op, Greensgrow Farms, and Penn State Master Gardener.

Architecture in Conversation
Friday, August 7, 5:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.

Jonathan Kirschenfeld and Damon Rich
Teddy Cruz, Michael Sorkin, and Aaron Levy
Posterity Hall and F.M. Kirby Auditorium

As part of "First Friday," visitors can participate in an informal discussion with designers featured in the Into the Open exhibition, including Jonathan Kirschenfeld of Jonathan Kirschenfeld Associates and Damon Rich, founder of the Center for Urban Pedagogy in Brooklyn, NY, who also serves as an urban designer and waterfront planner for the City of Newark, NJ. The conversation will take place in the Center's Posterity Hall alongside the designers' contributions to the exhibition. Afterwards, participate in a public conversation with architect Teddy Cruz, whose photo narrative of the U.S.-Mexico border will be prominently displayed on the front lawn of the National Constitution Center. The conversation will take place in the Center's Kirby Auditorium and features respected architecture professor and critic Michael Sorkin and will be moderated by Aaron Levy.

Sustainability Tour
Thursday, August 13, 1pm
Leaves from the National Constitution Center

A guided tour with unprecedented access to several sites in urban Philadelphia to illustrate how "We, the People" can play role in all aspects of our environmental stewardship--from development to use and, ultimately, to preservation. Inspired by the work presented in Into the Open, including that of Alice Waters and the Yale Sustainable Food Project, as well as the Center for Land Use Interpretation, the tour makes stops at Blue Mountain Recycling, Mill Creek Farm, and the Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center, as it traces the path of waste and sustainability in our city. The tour concludes at the National Constitution Center with a self guided experience of Into the Open.

In Conversation with Deborah Gans
Friday, August 21, 12-1:30pm
Center for Architecture, 1218 Arch Street

Meet Deborah Gans for a brown bag lunch and informal seminar on social responsibility, community design and opportunities for non-traditional practice. Based in New York City, Gans Studio is devoted to rethinking how architecture can participate in new social forms by focusing on extreme situations that yield insights for the general population. The studio has designed infrastructure and housing for those displaced by environmental and political disaster in Kosovo, New Orleans, and New York City.

Repurpose! A Community Workshop
Saturday, August 22, 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
611 North 40th Street, West Philadelphia

In the spirit of the civic activism promoted by the architects and designers featured in the Into the Open exhibition, the National Constitution Center and Slought Foundation present Repurpose!, a one-day community workshop and design competition highlighting the creative possibilities of urban revitalization in the Mantua neighborhood in West Philadelphia. The event will take place on a vacant lot at 611- 627 North 40th Street, currently slated to become the site of new affordable housing units.

The day will begin at 10am with a community workshop titled "What is affordable housing?," led by Rosten Woo of the Center for Urban Pedagogy. Presentations will be made at 12pm by Councilwoman Jannie L. Blackwell and Gloria Guard, President of the People's Emergency Center. Following their remarks, architects Srdjan Jovanovic Weiss (Normal Architecture Office), Brian Phillips (Interface Studio Architects), and Lindsay Bremner will lead workshops resulting in the creation of temporary structures such as an outdoor movie theater and shelter made from repurposed plastic bottles. The day will culminate with videos from the Precious Places Community History Project, a community oral history initiative produced by Scribe Video Center, beginning at 2pm in the movie theater. The workshop is organized with support from the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority, the City of Philadelphia's Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy, and the City of Philadelphia's Office of Sustainability. Videos courtesy of Scribe Video Center. The plastic bottles used in the workshops are courtesy of Blue Mountain Recycling.

Download more information on the event and the Mantua neighborhood