Theater 2 at the Bryn Mawr Film Institute Re-Opens on Schedule

AthenianRazak is proud of our continued role as the Owner’s Representative for the Bryn Mawr Film Institute (BMFI).  As we mentioned in an earlier post, BMFI hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for their final phase of construction in mid-March.  We are excited that all of the work of this final phase is on track for completion and that Theatre 2, which has been closed since July, re-opened on September 13th, following an aggressive schedule, which required several contractors to work around the clock.  You can read more about the re-opening here. Now that Theater 2 has re-opened, BMFI will close Theater 1 to focus on its renovations.  The entire project remains on schedule despite record rainfall to the Philadelphia area that had the potential to slow the construction of the new addition.

As the Owner’s Rep, we are overseeing a dozen specialty consultants with vast experience, working together to ensure that every detail of the new addition and renovation will enhance the visitor experience at the four beautiful state-of the-art theaters.  The project is scheduled for full completion in February 2014.


Celebrating the Last Leg of a Long Journey

When we serve as Development Manager for an institutional development project, often one of our main responsibilities is supporting fundraising and financing efforts, as well as managing cash flow with these factors in mind. This was the case when we were brought on to manage the development of Lenfest Hall at the Curtis Institute of Music. Our team prepared and administered a $15 million Redevelopment Capital Assistance Program (RACP) grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. These grants typically support the acquisition and construction of various types of regional projects. The grants don’t directly pay for project costs; they only reimburse bills already paid. So accurate, timely recordkeeping and organization is critical to smooth the flow of funds and to keep the cost of gap financing to a minimum. This requires diligent tracking, reporting, and piles of paperwork to ensure that all project funds that were originally promised can be secured.

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Why Philadelphia Ain’t Detroit

In a recent article in The Philadelphia InquirerFailure to Adapt, Joel Naroff cautions how Philadelphia could succumb to a collapse similar to Detroit due to the trends of population loss in both cities and the overall cost of city services, and then proposes to “clear cut” areas of the City to pave the way for profitable redevelopment. There are so many problems with this argument that I am not sure where to begin, but let’s start with the logic of the suggestion itself: “Areas should be totally depopulated and the land banked. If large tracts of land can be amassed, commercial and industrial business can be attracted.”

This just doesn’t compute. If the goal is to not be Detroit and shrink our infrastructure to match our population, then for a “clear cut” to save money we will have to acquire the property and abandon it—cutting the cost of services like transit, police, garbage collection etc. The economics of suggesting that the City buy big tracts of land, demolish everything on it, stop providing services and then sell or lease it to companies “looking for urban locations” at a presumably lower cost than market (otherwise why do it) is laughable. Redeveloping those clear cuts will then require massive investment and huge expense for the first tenant to move in, and in the interim, the super blight created by a landbanked “clear cut” unsupported by City services will hardly help grow the City’s population.

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Dedication Event Set for the Lenfest Center at ChesLen Preserve

Transforming the site from a dilapidated mushroom cannery to a state-of-the-art preserve management center, Natural Lands Trust announces the completion of the Lenfest Center at ChesLen Preserve.

The dedication event for the Lenfest Center took place Saturday, June 15th. AthenianRazak is thrilled to have served as the Development Advisor for this project.  Check out a slideshow of the Lenfest Center here, read more about the project here, or see a recap of the opening reception here.

Economy League Envisions a World Class Greater Philadelphia

The Economy League of Greater Philadelphia is working on a shared agenda to improve the Greater Philadelphia region’s future.  The World Class Greater Philadelphia effort has three main focus areas including Education and Talent, Business Growth and Infrastructure.   AthenianRazak’s Principal Jackie Buhn is on the Board of Directors of the Economy League and is working on the agenda for the World Class Greater Philadelphia effort.

Education and Talent

This area is being worked on in conjunction with the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and a host of other partner organizations.  One of the primary concerns of this effort is ensuring that every kid is “kindergarten ready.”  This includes creating an assessment to measure how ready children are for kindergarten by looking at various aspects of early childhood education.  You can read more about this effort here.

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Bryn Mawr Film Institute Hosts Groundbreaking Ceremony for Final Phase of Construction

On March 13th, the Bryn Mawr Film Institute (BMFI) held a groundbreaking ceremony for the final phase of its development project.

In just eight years, BMFI has saved an architectural gem from destruction and transformed it into one of the nation’s top film institutions attracting filmmakers, patrons, and critics from around the world. They feature the best in internationally distributed first-run films along with independent, documentary, international, and repertory films and simulcast opera, concerts, ballet, and theater. These fine cinematic works are the nucleus around which the community development and educational programs revolve.  The existing facility is a 1926 movie theater which has undergone stabilization, restoration and renovation and is now ready for an expansion of two additional theaters – the focus for their final phase of development.

The construction, being overseen by AthenianRazak as Owner’s Representative, consists of a nearly 6,000 sq ft single story addition to the existing building as well as modifications to the existing restrooms and theaters.  The addition will include two new state of the art theaters with engineered acoustics and audio visual capabilities, featuring seating for 150 in each theater.  This phase of development will nearly double the facility’s capacity.  The existing facility will remain open during the construction. Once the new theaters are completed the two, old theaters will be completely renovated with new sprinklers, seats, restrooms, and improved access.

You can read more about BMFI and the construction project here or in an article from the Main Line Times about the groundbreaking ceremony.

AthenianRazak Senior Project Manager Participates in Historic Preservation Consulting Project

Janet Kimbleton Grace, a Senior Project Manager at AthenianRazak, recently participated in a historic renovation consulting project for federal review of the Casa Farnese in Philadelphia. This federally-mandated process, known as Section 106, ensures that any building improvements, in this case a proposed lobby addition, have no adverse effects on its designation as a National Landmark.

Janet consulted on this project through DOCOMOMO, a non-profit organization dedicated to the documentation and conservation of buildings, sites, and neighborhoods of the modern movement. Janet currently serves as President of the Greater Philadelphia Chapter of DOCOMOMO.

You can read more about the Casa Farnese project here.

Michael Brookshier Appointed to Greenbuild 2013 Community Engagement & Social Networking Committee

Michael Brookshier, Senior Project Manager at AthenianRazak, was recently appointed to the Greenbuild 2013 Community Engagement & Social Networking Committee. The committee seeks to increase the region’s awareness of the conference and to promote Philadelphia’s profile as a global center of sustainability and cultural vibrancy.  The world’s largest conference and expo dedicated to green building, Greenbuild will be held in Philadelphia in November 2013.

Michael joins more than 150 volunteers from across the region who will be working with the Delaware Valley Green Building Council to make Greenbuild 2013 in Philadelphia a success. Click here ( for more information.


Lenfest Hall Featured in GRID Magazine for Its Green Practices

Lenfest Hall at the Curtis Institute of Music is featured in the October issue of GRID Magazine.  The article Cultural Shift – Philadelphia’s Institutions Embrace Green Building Practices focuses on how major arts and cultural institutions in the Philadelphia region, including Curtis, have embraced sustainable building and development.

AthenianRazak served as the Development Manager for this new student residence and education building, a major expansion for the Curtis Institute of Music. Lenfest Hall opened in September 2011 as a LEED Gold certified facility.

Click here ( to view the article in GRID Magazine.

To read more about our involvement, click here: []

Janet Kimbleton Grace serves as DOCOMOMO International Delegate

Janet Kimbleton Grace recently served as a delegate to the DOCOMOMO International Conference held in Finland.  DOCOMOMO is an acronym for the DOcumentation and COnservation of buildings, sites and neighborhoods of the MOdern MOvement. DOCOMOMO promotes the study, interpretation and protection of the architecture, landscape and urban design of this genre.

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