The Clay Studio’s New Home Is Molded in South Kensington

The Clay Studio has been a staple of the Old City neighborhood since its founding in 1974 by a collection of artist classmates.  Over the last 48 (!) years, it has become a beloved institution, engaging with various communities across the city and offering a place to create and learn. This organization has been in their current digs at 137-39 N. 2nd St. at the west end of Elfreth’s Alley since 1990, when they shared the space as the 2nd Street Art Building. But as the organization has grown, so have their needs. And as you might have guessed, this desire for additional space has led the studio to yet again move, this time to 1425 N. American St. in South Kensington.

The 2nd Street Art Building opens in 1990
The Clay Studio’s current Old City home…for a bit longer

Digsau has partnered with the Clay Studio on the new space, which is well underway. This strikingly modern building will nearly double the size of their current spot and will feature expanded gallery, studio, classroom and gathering spaces to fit the organization’s expanding offerings. Before we check in on progress, how about little reminder of this area in the past and what is soon to come?

1425 N. American St. looking a bit dreary in the past
The Clay Studio shifting to more modern digs
Outdoor terrace with Center City views
Interior rendering shows ample space and light
The new Clay Studio taking shape
Lots of work on-going to prepare for grand opening this spring
Windows providing a little depth

We’re pretty thrilled by this project, as this stretch of N. American St. is undergoing a massive transformation. The ultra-wide streets and industrial feeling of the area were a bit daunting when we first visited Crane Arts just across the street from here many moons ago, but to say that it feels different barely scratches the surface. Just look at all the action now.

1525 N. American St. going up just to the north
What's to come, from HDO Architecture
1705 N. American Street getting going a couple blocks north
1705 bringing more apartments to this stretch, by Atrium Design Group
2nd and Cecil B. Moore just around the corner
View of project from 2nd Street, from SgRA

Quite the change, wouldn’t you say? The Clay Studio really adds to the energy of South Kensington, with some other major projects going up just a little ways north. Mixed-use projects are rapidly changing an area that could feel a bit desolate along this still partially industrial corridor. And as always, we are happy to see more vacant lots bite the dust, allowing the architectural history of the Workshop of the World to remain. The Clay Studio is immediately embracing its new community by opening with Making Place Matter, an exhibition focused on building ties to the neighborhood. Originally slated for March, we have a feeling we might see this pushed back so that construction can wrap up. Hopefully it will be sooner than later that we can enjoy the art (and those skyline views) from the terrace.