An Industrial Facility Now Exhibits, Retails and Educates about the Craft Arts

2nd Place, Adaptive Reuse

For more than 30 years, Contemporary Craft has provided free access to high-quality arts and creative experiences for all. When the organization sought to secure its future by purchasing a new home, it was essential that the building meet the client’s budget while reinforcing its identity as a friendly, dynamic space, where diverse people can gather.

An old concrete masonry building—one that was not designed with human comfort or community in mind—might not seem like a good candidate to meet these needs. But the GBBN design team and the craft-oriented client saw the potential to transform a modest, previously industrial concrete box in Pittsburgh into a showcase for Contemporary Craft’s programming while reflecting the organization’s mission by highlighting the joy that craftspeople uncover via the materials of the building itself.

PHOTOS: ED MASSERY PHOTOGRAPHY; BEFORE PHOTOS: GBBN

OPENING UP, WELCOMING COMMUNITY

The renovation takes a nondescript building, which was previously closed in on itself, and opens it up to the community. The addition of a rolling glass garage door and two dramatic, punched storefront openings creates views into the building, allowing passersby to glimpse the activity within its studios, gallery and retail space.

Beyond views to the inside, the exterior itself is enriched. The addition of a textured brick pattern enhances the façade while layered aluminum tubes and sonar-inspired, patterned panels around the entrance create an animated effect that comes alive as people pass by.

FUNCTIONAL AND INVITING

The exterior is designed to invite the community in, and a beautiful, custom-crafted reception desk creates a center of gravity to welcome and orient visitors. What was once a dark, industrial space is now an open and airy floorplan, where visitors easily move between the gallery and retail shop. For functional reasons, the studios are separated by walls.

Behind the reception desk, a new clerestory structure brings light and introduces a view to the sky overhead while a striking steel stairway provides access to Contemporary Craft’s second-floor office space.

EXPRESSION OF CRAFT

From the spalted maple—whose dark-veined, marble patterns are created by fungus when the tree is allowed to decay in the forest—reception desk and displays to the textured brick façade, the whole building expresses the value of craft. By transforming a humdrum building—the kind that dots the landscapes of our cities—Contemporary Craft’s new space manifests the transformative power of craft while welcoming its community, new and old, into its new space.

“Very inspiring project. Beautifully executed inside and out. I easily can see how this transforms the community.”

Brett Baba, co-founder, Graham Baba Architects, Metamorphosis Awards Judge

Retrofit Team

METAMORPHOSIS AWARD WINNER and ARCHITECT: GBBN

  • Mick McNutt, AIA
  • Anne Chen, AIA, LEED AP
  • Melanie Ngami

GENERAL CONTRACTOR: Jendoco Construction Corp.

METAL FABRICATION: Gray Welding & Fabrication Services

WINDOW RESTORATION AND REPAIR: Southwest Aluminum & Glass Co., (412) 257-9500

STRUCTURAL ENGINEER: WBCM

MEP ENGINEER: WNA Engineering

ENERGY MODELING: 3R Building Sustainability

Materials

CURTAINWALL AND STOREFRONT: Kawneer

METAL SIDING: ATAS International

CUSTOM SPALTED MAPLE VENEER: Deep Greene Woodworks

DOORS: Doors Unhinged

FURNITURE: Kelly Custom Furniture & Cabinetry

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