3rd Ward Philadelphia is finally open. Here’s how it plans to stand out

It’s been a long time coming, but 3rd Ward is now open in Philadelphia.

For now, it’s arguably the prettiest coworking space in town. In a few weeks, it’ll be, in essence, a DIY trade school for the curious at heart.

“It’s a place where you can come build a robotic arm and then take a class and make your own pair of moccasins,” said Jestis Deuerlein, 3rd Ward’s director of events.

The Brooklyn-based company announced in 2011 that it was expanding to Philadelphia. After a few delays, it’s finally here: a makerspace with coworking, events and classes.

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“We will have a full metalshop and a full woodshop,” said operations manager Jason Yucis. “And a full computer lab, and a full textile shop, and a full jewelry lab.”

Don’t forget the culinary studio. Or the ground-floor restaurant. Or the electronics room.

It’s a giant playground — almost empty for now — of both the high- and low-tech.

“It’s a lot,” said Yucis. “But, I mean, the trucks are backing up. I’m surprised we can’t hear beeps right now as they’re coming in.”

Big plans, big space

3rd Ward has poured millions into the space, hoping to replicate its profitable model in Brooklyn of offering hands-on courses at reasonable rates.

“When we’re fully rolling, we’re going to have over 60 classes a month [taught by local experts],” said Yucis.

Walking in, the first thing you notice is the cavernous space itself.

3rd Ward occupies two conjoined buildings on Fourth Street near Girard Avenue in South Kensington. It was once a church-turned-box factory.

“This really is a beautiful amalgamation of both of those of things,” said Yucis. The renovation has maintained many of the building’s dinged-up, industrial charms.

Despite the full array of offerings, 3rd Ward’s Deuerlein says the primary focus is on education.

She says the company’s demographic in New York has been a wide range of people, aged roughly 25 to 45.

“It’s a lot of people who were never really involved in art at all,” Deuerlein said. “You know, people with jobs in, like, the government or something who have wanted to learn how to weld for the last 15 years and this is their chance.”

About 20 courses begin June 1. Starting Wednesday night, there’ll be a weekly Drink’N’Draw event. (Tagline: “We provide the beer and the model. You bring your drawing tools and creativity.”) Expect a block party in late July.

Deuerlein and Yucis, both longtime Philadelphians, say they’re eager for 3rd Ward to mix it up with Philly’s other coworking and maker spaces. “I think there’s room for all of us,” Deuerlein said. “We all have kind of a different angle on these things.”

Really, Deuerlein says she’s just happy to see the gritty, almost-trade school begin to take flight.

“I feel like it’s our baby,” she said. “I think we all feel a real sense of ownership over what happens here, because we all really believe in it and we all know how much potential there is.”

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