The Kimmel Center Starts $14 M Renovation Project, Lands Famous Chef Jose Garces

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor Less than one week after the grand opening of Philadelphia’s X-Finity Live!, another local performing arts venue is set for a $14 million major renovation process at two of its public spaces, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. Work [...]

Less than one week after the grand opening of Philadelphia’s X-Finity Live!, another local performing arts venue is set for a $14 million major renovation process at two of its public spaces, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Work has already begun at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts’ rooftop garden. The ficus trees on top of the Perelman Theater have been removed to make room for a box-shaped structure made of glass and steel that will protect the space underneath from the extreme temperature fluctuations that have made the space below almost impossible to use. Michael L. Prifti, managing partner at BLT Architects, told the Inquirer that the projected glass box will be transparent, but the view to the stadiums on the south and the bridges of the Delaware River on the east will be restricted when a system of louvers—designed to protect the interior from the sun and heat—is deployed.

The Inquirer also hints at a ground level restaurant that would be built at the Kimmel Center by Jose Garces, an Ecuadorian-American chef who owns seven restaurants in Philadelphia: Amada, Tinto, Distrito, Chifa, Village Whiskey, Garces Trading Company and JG Domestic. The new restaurant is still in the planning stages—its culinary concept and name are yet to be determined—but, apparently, it would have 80 to 100 seats as well as a bar. An opening date was set for January 2013, although the restaurant chain managed by Jose Garces is expected to fully take charge of food service at the Kimmel Center next June.

Reportedly, half of the funds required by the renovation plan will be covered by a grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Designed by Rafael Viñoly Architects, PC, the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts opened in December 2001 as an arts venue replacing the aging Academy of Music building. It is home of the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Dance Company and the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, and it features three performance auditoriums located under a state-of-the-art vaulted glass ceiling: the Verizon Hall with 2,500 seats, the Perelman Theater with 650 seats, and the Dorrance H. Hamilton Roof Garden above the Perelman Theater.

Photo courtesy of the Kimmel Center for Performing Arts official website