Excerpt: A nod to Philadelphia’s often underrepresented industrial heritage felt appropriate while thinking about a possible reuse of this space. Textile manufacturing was done well outside of the retail front lines of Center City in industrial enclaves like Old City, Kensington, and along the Schuylkill River in Roxborough. Production declined and large-scale textile manufacturing gradually moved overseas in the decades following World War II. Most factories and workshops were closed by the late 1970s. Some industrial sites have been repurposed for commercial use and a growing few for applaudable residential reuse. Others have been set on fire and reduced to ash, demolished for new construction, or continue to languish in ruins through neglect and abandonment, further eroding a diminishing stock of built landmarks that speak for this important, undervalued era in the city’s history.
For this installment of Marked Potential, the Cunningham Piano Building was reimagined as the headquarters of a niche textile studio that provides design development and production services for individuals and small businesses that specialize in high-end home goods like bedding, blankets, window treatment for lofts, carrying bags, and a host of other fashionable fabric products. Clients will approach the firm with unique ideas for small runs of their product line, seeking guidance through the development and manufacturing phase. Both design and production will take place in-house, allowing workflow issues to be quickly resolved and provide a more collaborative workplace atmosphere. Fabrics used will be purchased domestically and stored onsite when a project goes into production. Custom fabric designs would also be printed in the United States and shipped to this facility.