Pennsylvania Ballet Planning New Building on North Broad

Journey with us, if you will, to the Naked Philly vaults, and revisit a story from eight years ago, about the Pennsylvania Ballet moving from their home in East Falls to a new location on North Broad Street. The dance company, which also has an associated school, purchased a pair of buildings at 321-323 N. Broad St. and demolished the structure at 321 N. Broad St. during the summer of 2012, ultimately reusing a one-story section of the building that was set back from Broad Street. At the time, they presented plans to renovate the terracotta building at 323 N. Broad St., which was originally used as for offices and a showroom for U.S. Tire Company.

Back in 2012
Old rendering

PA Ballet did indeed move to North Broad Street, but the rendering you see above never came to pass. Instead, the dance company has operated out of two locations, with their offices located in a space on South Broad Street. This is certainly a less costly option than a massive renovation project, but not an ideal setup and certainly not what they planned when they purchased these parcels. Last year, Philly.com reported that the plans for the site had changed and that PA Ballet would demolish the building at 323 N. Broad St. after all, with an eye toward building something more substantial at the corner. The motivation was both relating to the poor condition of the building and the high cost of renovation, and also a desire to have a rehearsal space that matched the size of their performance space, which would not have been possible if incorporating the old building. Ultimately, the edifice met the wrecking ball last year.

Current view

A post on Skyscraper Page directed us to the website for architecture firm Varenhorst, which offers renderings and a detailed description of the new plan for the property. Check out this rendering, which shows a very different approach than the previous plan:

Current rendering

Per the architects, this new building will include dance studios, including a space that will also function as a performance space, complete with retractable seating. The building will also house changing rooms, a dancer’s lounge, a cafe, and the aforementioned administrative offices. While it’s unfortunate that the old terracotta building couldn’t be integrated into the new structure, we’re at least cheered that the new project will bring a contemporary flair to North Broad Street, and better street presence than the current setup. Of course, this fancy upgrade will surely come with a hefty price tag, and we suspect that construction won’t move forward until a considerable amount of the fundraising is through. We don’t see any information about a capital campaign at the moment, but if you’re interested in contributing to this effort, we don’t imagine PA Ballet would turn down your check.