As Glen Arbor Arts Center quickly outgrew its small space, it engaged Mathison | Mathison Architects to help transform its quaint building tucked in the woods into a vibrant and visible community space.
Glen Arbor Arts Center (GAAC) is a multifunctional cultural center that provides unique and forward-thinking programming, including art classes, lectures, gallery exhibitions and artist residency programs.
Renovations began in 2014 when GAAC outgrew its building. Three people crammed into one small office space was no longer working, as visitors’ conversations distracted the team and removed any sense of privacy. And the one main room was used for almost everything, from gallery showings to art classes to lectures.
“We were like a root-bound plant in this building,” said Peg McCarty, GAAC director. “We had used every nook and cranny of this space.”
Mathison | Mathison Architects (MMA) and GAAC understood the changes that needed to occur for the center to become more functional: a proper entryway with a reception desk, better offices with privacy and a permanent art gallery — all while honoring the existing architecture.
GAAC acquired the neighboring plot of land, which allowed the building to expand. This provided one of the biggest blessings of the project: a visual presence off the highly trafficked Lake Street in Glen Arbor.
MMA added a large gallery space with high ceilings and ambient clerestory windows that provide controlled, yet flexible, lighting. The new art gallery allows GAAC to plan a series of exhibitions over multiple weeks rather than small, quick shows that fit in between the concurring meetings and classes. And a new entry space increases GAAC’s welcoming capacity for visitors.
MMA carefully considered the approach to the materials selected. The building’s original cedar shingle siding had weathered to a dark, unappealing gray due to the lack of sunlight and airflow in the surrounding woods. And the original Douglas fir flooring was worn down from foot traffic and spotted with paint drippings.
MMA retained as many of the original shingles as possible, staining them in a more welcoming color, and added a variety of interestingly patterned siding for the addition. They also retained the flooring by refinishing the wood panels to bring them back to life.
Everything done throughout this project was modest in scope, but together, the design choices thoughtfully contribute to a much more elegant experience for the whole community. The team at GAAC is thrilled with how much more space they have, as it allows them to serve many more community members and visitors.
To learn more, visit mathisonarchitects.com/work/glen-arbor-arts-center/