“POOL: A Social History of Segregation” to Open on World Water Day, March 22, 2022. Full statement here.
Back to Blog

The Fund for the Water Works Awarded $3M State Grant for ‘Floating Water Workshop’

Historic Fairmount Water Works Awarded $3 Million Grant Through RACP for Innovative Floating Water Workshop Along the Schuylkill Banks

“The Workshop will redefine the surface of Philadelphia’s rivers as a space for safe public access where participants can explore ecological complexity while developing a community environmental ethic through stewardship and personal action.” -Karen Young, Fairmount Water Works Executive Director

Philadelphia, PA—Pennsylvania Senator Nikil Saval (D-Philadelphia. First Dist.) announced The Fund for the Water Works as a $3 million recipient of a Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) grant to develop The Floating Water Workshop. The RACP is a Commonwealth grant program administered by the state’s Office of the Budget.

Awards are granted for the acquisition and construction of regional economic, cultural, civic, recreational, and historical improvement projects. The Water Works grant, announced December 7,  was included in nearly $40 million awarded to projects in Pennsylvania’s First Senate District in 2021.

“The Floating Water Workshop will be an innovative, meaningful addition to Pennsylvania’s civic, recreational, educational, and environmental communities. Our region is incredibly fortunate to have abundant clean water and rich ecosystems thanks to the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers, but there are few safe opportunities for people to enjoy being on our rivers,”according to Fairmount Water Works Executive Director Karen Young. “The Workshop will redefine the surface of Philadelphia’s rivers as a space for safe public access where participants can explore ecological complexity while developing a community environmental ethic through stewardship and personal action.”

The proposed design led by Victoria Prizzia of Habithéque, Inc. features a 5,400-square-foot dynamic learning space that would rest on the Schuylkill River, connecting to the east bank and Schuylkill River Trail using two gangways just south of the historic Fairmount Water Works site. The Workshop will be a learning laboratory of hands-on STEAM-based (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) engagement for people of all ages using current environmental education strategies, technology, and creativity. Demand for the award-winning programs at the Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center exceeds capacity, so the Workshop will meet a clear and growing community need.

Floating Water Workshop rendering, North Deck. According to Fairmount Water Works Executive Director Karen Young. “The Workshop will redefine the surface of Philadelphia’s rivers as a space for safe public access where participants can explore ecological complexity while developing a community environmental ethic through stewardship and personal action.”

In addition to offering reserved education programs to students and adults, the Workshop space will be open for walk-on visitation and feature special performances and events. Exhibits are designed for group or individual enjoyment, including multimedia, technology, plant and living collections. 

“The Floating Water Workshop is intended to be the centerpiece of our strategy to ensure children throughout the greater Philadelphia community have easy, fun, and compelling access to water science education, says The Fund for the Water Works Board Chair William Marrazzo. “Thanks to the elected officials who helped secure this grant, we have made considerable progress towards funding the construction of this project and unlocked additional funding from the William Penn Foundation.”

Eventually rotating between the city’s two major rivers, the Workshop will be a highlight of both the Delaware River waterfront and the bustling Schuylkill River corridor, where it will be easily accessible from the popular Schuylkill River Trail system. The Workshop will open opportunities to foster deeper relationships among Philadelphia’s diverse communities and the rivers we share.

The RACP award is to be used on the “brick and mortar” aspects of the Workshop (including architecture, engineering, and construction), and funds must be matched 1:1 with non-Pa. state funds, either city, federal, corporate, or private.

About the Fairmount Water Works

For more than 200 years, the Fairmount Water Works has told the story of our connection with water. It operated as a pumping station from 1815 to 1909, an aquarium from 1911 to 1962, as the Kelly Natatorium until 1972, and today serves as the Philadelphia Water Department’s public education destination, housing an award-winning urban environmental education center.

The mission of Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center is to foster stewardship of our shared resources by encouraging informed decisions about the use of land and water. We educate citizens about Philadelphia’s urban watershed, its past, present and future, and collaborate with partners to instill an appreciation for the connections between daily life and the natural environment. Located on the Schuylkill River at 640 Waterworks Drive, off scenic Kelly Drive in Philadelphia, the FWW is recognized as The Delaware River Basin’s Official Watershed Education Center and Gateway Center for the Schuylkill River National and State Heritage Area, featuring innovative, landmark exhibitions and serving as a living laboratory for urban watershed sustainability projects. For more information, visit www.fairmountwaterworks.org.

The Fund for the Water Works is a registered 501-c-3 charitable organization established to support donations to support the Water Works’ Board-designated initiatives.

About the Philadelphia Water Department

The Philadelphia Water Department supplies drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater services to customers within the City of Philadelphia. The Department also has one wholesale water contract and 10 wholesale wastewater contracts with entities outside the City. PWD maintains a network of more than 3,100 miles of water mains, 3,700 miles of sewers, six treatment facilities, and 34 pumping stations. Learn more at water.phila.gov

###