Contemporary Craft’s new home in Upper Lawrenceville neighborhood, 5637 Butler Street, is highly visible—a key to awareness and audience development—and will serve as an ideal blank canvas for creating an eye-catching and welcoming art center for the Greater Pittsburgh community and beyond.
Designed by GBBN Architects, a dramatic front entrance will announce CC as a cultural landmark and destination in Upper Lawrenceville. The building’s purchase and renovation will be a $5.5 million investment in the future of arts and culture in Southwestern Pennsylvania.
Every aspect of the new space will be designed to enhance visitor experience and allow for audience engagement.
Architectural rendering of CC’s exhibition space in the new facility.
Courtesy of GBBN Architects.
About the Design
Contemporary Craft will continue to challenge and redefine how we think about contemporary art and the craft of making in their new home in Upper Lawrenceville. The design transforms the former industrial building into a destination and an experience open for interpretation. True to the values of Contemporary Craft, the space will retain elements of its manufacturing origins, adapted and enhanced to support and advance the organization’s educational, exhibit, and retail programs. Interior and exterior details will juxtapose traditional making methods with newer, digital fabrication techniques, provoking a dialogue about what it means to be made by hand.
Dramatic exhibition space will house CC’s groundbreaking shows as well as nationally important and culturally diverse exhibitions that otherwise might not find a venue in Pittsburgh. Formerly a manufacturing facility, the new space will feature a sleek, industrial vibe well suited for contemporary art.
Fourteen-foot ceilings will allow abundant natural light into the gallery and store through a large glass-and-aluminum overhead door on the front of the building, and a glass wall in the entryway will attract new and casual visitors inside. State-of-the-art lighting will adjust to each exhibition’s specific needs. An open floor plan with moveable panels, display cases, and pedestals will allow for dramatic installations, accommodate large-scale artworks, and help direct audience flow.
Architectural rendering of CC’s lobby and retail space in the new facility.
Courtesy of GBBN Architects.
Retail Space and Marketplace for Artists
The reimagined retail store will be a marketplace for local and national artists while optimizing a key earned revenue stream for CC. Unique display cases will showcase high-quality goods and hand-crafted art. Marketing support, prizes, and feature displays will support sales and represent artists. Artist commissions will call attention to craft materials, design, and creativity.
Studio and Education Spaces
Hands-on classes will provide valuable professional development for Upper Lawrenceville’s “community of makers” through 80+ workshops offered annually.
Three fully equipped studios for metals, fiber art and mixed media, and woodworking will support workshops for all ages and skill levels, including youth education and outreach programming that fill critical gaps in public education for at-risk young people. Moveable walls between studios will allow flexible use for both larger and more intimate classes, accommodating nationally recognized visiting artist classes that draw craft-enthusiasts and students from outside the region.
Large windows will provide natural light from the Butler Street exterior and showcase classes for patrons and passersby to view art making in progress. A Drop-In Studio will offer free, hands-on art making during public hours to all visitors regardless of age, ability, or income, with educational content, themes or techniques related to work in the gallery.
Although the project will not pursue LEED certification, sustainable design standards will be tracked with the goal of attaining LEED Silver equivalency. The project will explore green energy solutions including onsite solar panels or low carbon alternatives, and prioritize multi-modal transportation options including bicycle, public transit, and pedestrian traffic at the new location.