It is a rare opportunity to design a learning space for a program ranked amid the top ten in the world. Philadelphia University’s new Fashion and Textiles Futures Center celebrates the history of this premier program while promoting active, collaboration-based learning, research, and practice. The design for the Fashion and Textiles Futures Center was conceived to further advance fashion and textile design programs enhanced with active learning. Student designs and collections will be featured throughout the facility, interspersed among open design studios, fabrication labs, and computer-aided design facilities. The flexible learning environment will also enhance partnerships with industry leaders to more closely connect students to current and future career opportunities.
The Futures Center is a fresh and transparent environment where the layers of design, production and product display overlap and inform each other. Exposing the original high bay industrial structure serves as a unifying shell for the design studios, production labs and product displays to promote a more active and engaging workspace. Sliding glass partitions and borrowed exterior daylight allow visibility from the exterior through all three-zones of the space. Once-dark corridors are now a vibrant, marketable tour of student work in lighted display cases with views into the studios beyond. A suspended metal grid provides an adaptable framework for lighting, suspended sliding pin-up panels and movable hanging displays for reviewing projects. Wheeled storage modules allow long-term projects to be stowed and moved aside during studio open houses.
The project design was a collaboration between faculty, administration, and the Strada-led design team including fashion and textile design, architecture, interior design, industrial design, exhibit design and lighting design. Construction was completed during the 2016 summer recess.
– Marcia Weiss, the Harold Neuman Textile Design Chair and Director of Philadelphia University textile design programs