Crafting Community

Contemporary Craft

To Project Types

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania | 12,000 SF

A community anchor discovers the beauty of its new home.
Gallery Exterior A rolling glass garage door and large windows create views into the space, offering glimpses of the studios, gallery, and retail displays.

For over 30 years, Contemporary Craft has provided free access to high quality arts and creative experiences for all from its space in Pittsburgh’s Strip District. So, when the organization sought to secure its future by purchasing a new home in Lawrenceville, it was essential that the new building maintain its identity as a friendly, dynamic space, where diverse people can gather.

Gallery Exhibit Museum quality gallery spaces display the work of internationally-renowned artists.

The design, which transforms a modest, previously industrial concrete box into a showcase for Contemporary Craft’s exhibition, education, and retail programming, reflects the organization’s mission by highlighting the joy that craftspeople uncover in the materials of the building itself.

Gallery Before Renovation The design transformed a common concrete box.
Gallery Exterior after renovation Simple façade strategies—added texture, patterned panels, and color—create an inviting, new entrance.
Artboard 1

“It was a great experience working with GBBN…. We couldn’t have asked for a better team that understands Contemporary Craft’s organizational history, vision, the design, and aesthetic needs to design the building. The processes were collaborative… and (we) appreciated the opportunity to work with GBBN in preserving parts of Contemporary Craft’s history by repurposing used materials from our 33-year home into beautiful design elements at our new facility.”

Artboard 1 copy
- Yu-San Cheng, Director of Operations & Finance

The addition of a textured brick pattern enriches the façade while sonar-inspired panels of layered aluminum tubes create an animated effect that comes alive as you pass by the entrance. The addition of a rolling, glass garage door and two dramatic storefront openings, creates views into the building, allowing passersby to glimpse the activity within its studios, gallery, and retail space.

Exhibition and retail spaces celebrate the craft of making.

While the exterior is designed to invite the community in, a beautiful maple reception desk creates a center of gravity to welcome and orient visitors as they search out the studios, gallery, or retail shop

Spalted maple veneers add a layer of care to the reception desk and displays. Their patterning is produced by allowing felled trees to decay in place for a period of time, so fungi can grow, sending dark filaments through the wood to create a marbled pattern.