RAIR / Community Design Collaborative

Artist Program Expansion

Philadelphia, PA

Project Details

Conceptualizing a platform for artists who challenge the perception of waste culture

As part of an interdisciplinary team organized by the Community Design Collaborative, which pairs Philadelphia nonprofits with pro bono preliminary design services, KSS Architects provided conceptual design for an artist program expansion in Northeast Philadelphia. Recycled Artists in Residency (RAIR) is an art and industrial nonprofit that interrupts the waste stream to facilitate the production of high-quality, creative content using trash as its object or medium. This study explored the expansion and relocation of RAIR’s art program center on a former superfund site acquired by waste recycling facility Revolution Recovery. 

The proposed design scheme features two buildings informed by coastal infrastructure vernacular: the dock and the ship. Shipping containers and concrete pads act as the “dock”—the permanent and core piece that ties together the design and the infrastructure. A light, airy, and flexible wood construction buildout resembles a “ship” and acts as the most flexible part of the design. With the shipping container as the fixed base, the buildout can be expanded as RAIR continues to grow. Each building is located underneath a large roof to allow for covered outdoor working and gathering space. 

Positioning its expanded recycled arts program on this site will not only allow RAIR to expand its programs, but also connect to the Delaware River, the future North Delaware Riverfront Greenway bike trail, and the surrounding community. At the same time, the site design provides a clear demarcation between public space, like the sculpture park and dinosaur lookout, and private space that is for use by staff and artists, to ensure that all can enjoy the playful elements of the site.

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Team Members