About the project

Over 25 highly engaging interactive exhibits, a 16-minute original feature video theater, multi media installation sculpture, and rich graphic displays are used to convey the principle message of the importance of water in all of our lives, and the crucial role that we play as individuals in its protection and preservation. This message is conveyed with a balance of humor and earnestness that ensures its effective communication to a wide audience. The Center occupies 7,500 square feet of the historic Fairmount Water Works on the Schuylkill River. Our contemporary exhibits are visually and functionally compatible with this 18th century historic site and have been innovatively designed for quick removal, hoisting to the ceiling, or submersion in the event of flooding.

The Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center has been the recipient of numerous awards for its scientific and historical interpretation, architectural restoration and environmental education. It has recently been named to Architectural Digest's list of the 150 Great Designs in the World.


  • "Pollutionopolis," a whimsical multimedia installation
  • Interactive video flyover of the entire Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers
  • Scaled animated "wet" model showing the time-lapsed tidal action of the Schuylkill River
  • Interactive animated fiber-optic water cycle
  • Interactive raining "BB" watershed model showing water paths
  • Lift the toilet seat lid interactive to find out what not to put down the drain
  • Three touchscreen interactives presenting phases of the water use cycle
  • Live video feed to the Schuylkill River's fish ladder & interactive fish ID
  • "Guess Who Lives Here" rotating blocks test knowledge of wildlife
  • "Stock Ticker" LED indicating increase or decrease of its living inhabitants
  • "What Have You Put in Me Lately" interactive "voting machine"
  • Historic turbine, pumps and 10' projected rotating water wheel

View Site




Philadelphia Water Department


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


  • Planning
  • All phases of exhibition design
  • Coordination with project architects
  • General contracting of exhibit fabrication and installation


  • Content Development:
    Interpretive Solutions
  • Fabrication:
    Lynch Exhibits
  • Media Design:
    Talisman Interactive
  • Lighting Design:
    Grenald Waldron Associates


  • Philadelphia Preservation Alliance – Grand Jury Award
  • Water Resources Association – Government Award
  • Partnership for the Delaware Estuary 
    • Excellence in the Estuary Award for Ecotourism
    • Excellence in the Estuary Award for Water Education
    • Pennsylvania Alliance for Environmental Education – Outstanding 


“The Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center (IC) was a difficult challenge - a unique, urban water environment education center in the nation's most historic pumping station. SFD assembled a team which worked patiently with this large bureaucracy to create cutting-edge interactive exhibits, elegant or fun (as warranted) graphic panels, and effective sculptural elements, all of which capture the attention and imagination of the visitor, leaving them wanting to find out more. And, the IC can, and does, provide more!

Working with SFD's staff is a pleasure. They make a quick study of the client's needs, and bring experience, imagination, and humor to the process, always in a professional and timely manner. PWD is more than pleased with what SFD has accomplished at the Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center.”

Ed Grusheski
General Manager, Public Affairs
Philadelphia Water Department