Contemporary Craft

Building Architecture- Large Scale (>10,000 sf)

Project Narrative

For 30+ years, Contemporary Craft (CC) has provided free access to high quality arts experiences from a rented space in Pittsburgh. So, when they sought to secure their future by purchasing a new home, it was essential that the building maintain CC’s identity, express its mission, and create a welcoming space.

An industrial concrete building might not seem like a good candidate for this, but craft has a way of uncovering the beauty in the most mundane materials – and that’s what the design does.
Once a closed box, the renovation opens the new space to the community. The addition of a rolling glass garage door and two dramatic, punched openings create views in, allowing passersby to glimpse the activity of its studios, gallery, and retail spaces.

The exterior itself is also enriched. 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 you pass by.

While the exterior invites people in, a beautiful, custom-crafted reception desk creates a center of gravity to orient visitors. What was once a dark, industrial space is now an open and airy floorplan (lit by a roof popup), where visitors enjoy CC’.

From the locally-fabricated, spalted maple reception desk and display cases—whose dark-veined, marble patterns are created by a fungus when the tree is allowed to decay in the forest—to textured façade and repurposed materials from Contemporary Craft’s old home, the whole building expresses craft’s power to elevate and transform.


Project Details

Submission Category

Building Architecture- Large Scale (>10,000 sf)

Date of Completion

August, 2020