Groundbreaking for Philadelphia’s Turrell Skyspace set for May 15

Art Aficionados, mark your calendar. Chestnut Hill Friends Meeting (CHFM) will be breaking ground on its new meetinghouse on May 15 at 8:30am. CHFM’s new digs will feature a James Turrell Skyspace.

Turrell is a world-renown Quaker artist. His Skyspace light installations are simple chambers with an aperture in the ceiling via a retractable roof through which visitors quietly contemplate the ever-changing sky.

The journey to this point has been a three year process for CHFM. Just this past month CHFM was the recipient of a William Penn Foundation grant of $200,000 towards its three million dollar capital campaign, Building In The LIGHT. “We’re excited to see a private group like CHFM working collaboratively with other nonprofits and the city to create a new public amenity that has the potential to significantly enhance the experience of Fairmount Park,” said Shawn McCaney, a program officer with the Foundation.

The project is also among the 55 finalists in the 2012 Knight Arts Challenge Philadelphia. Winners have yet to be announced.

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The new meetinghouse will be located at 20 East Mermaid Lane, just one lot over from its current location. The project’s centerpiece is the building’s meeting room which will house the James Turrell Skyspace. Turrell’s work has a meditative quality which complements Quaker values of simplicity, peace and inner light.

The eco-friendly building is designed to honor traditional Friends’ architecture.

CHFM anticipates that the new meetinghouse will attract visitors from all faiths. The site will feature publicly accessible gardens which will not only aid storm water management, but connect to the Cresheim Valley section of Fairmount Park. CHFM hopes that many visitors will take the opportunity to explore the area’s natural surroundings.

The meetinghouse is projected to be completed by summer 2013.

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