A new museum about the history of the American Revolution will soon break ground in Philadelphia.
Philadelphia-based INTECH Construction has been chosen to do the job for the museum, to be located at 3rd and Chestnut streets in Old City.
Demolition of the existing building at the corner, the old Bicentennial Visitors Center, will begin shortly to clear the way for construction this fall, even though that plan has not yet been fully approved.
The building design for the new museum was not accepted by the city’s Art Commission, which needs to sign off on the plans for them to go forward. The commission took issue with certain elements created by the design firm A.M. Stern: few street-level windows, a decorative brick veneer, and a cupola up top.
“We’ve met with the subcommittee with the Art Commission, and have had constructive talks,” said H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest, a major backer of the museum. “We actually think our consultation with them will improve the design. Without changing the envelope — we need the space inside. But we’ll make the exterior look a little better.”
Lenfest has contributed a $40 million matching grant to build the new museum and establish an endowment. So far, half of that amount has been matched.
The total demolition and construction cost is $60 million, half of which came from a state grant authorized by former Gov. Ed Rendell.
“The American Revolution was extraordinary. It keyed revolutions all around the world,” said Rendell during a speech in front of the old visitors center. “The people actually won the right to govern themselves. And that idea was contagious all over the world. We see it’s still contagious today in places like Ukraine.”
Museum president Michael Quinn said the construction of the building and creation of its exhibits will generate a one-time economic impact of $135.9 million in direct and indirect spending.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article indicated the location at 4th and Chestnut streets. We regret the error.