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Arc of the Piedmont Arc Studio Ribbon Cutting

Earlier this month we were honored to attend a ribbon cutting event for a very special repeat client, Arc of the Piedmont.

Arc of the Piedmont has a long history in the Charlottesville region, starting in 1954 with a group of parents and friends of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities who realized that educational and community inclusion would not happen without their advocacy and support. Over the decades they’ve done tremendous work to create and support high quality services that advance and enhance inclusion, respect and appreciation for all people with developmental disabilities and their families. 

Our work with them began in 2016. They had outgrown their previous facilities which they had been renting, and so they began looking for a new home they could purchase and develop to meet the needs of their clientele. We worked with them from the beginning, helping to identify feasible properties, including the building they ended up purchasing, which had previously been a medical practice. The building had undergone various renovations and associated uses (it was even a grocery store at one point), so the design required a scalpel-like precision to blend the disparate spaces into a collective plan. 

Our original work with them helped to make the main areas function for their day programming, a new administrative headquarters and board room meeting space. This required establishing a more coherent entry point and logical connection between the original building and new construction as well as an exterior patio for additional recreation space for both day program attendees and staff. We worked alongside our friends at Martin Horn and Line and Grade for this portion of the project, collaborating throughout the design and construction phases. 

But this month we were able to help celebrate the opening of the newest phase of the Arc’s building renovation - The Arc Studio. The Arc Studio program provides a supportive, open studio environment where adult artists with developmental disabilities can create, experiment, explore and connect through authentic art making experiences. While the programming began in 2021, there wasn’t a dedicated space for it. And as the program took off and interest in it grew, it was clear it needed its own home within the building.

Under an administrative wing in the original half of the building was a practically unused area, just the right size for a studio and with easy entry from the rest of the day programming space. Having been unused for many years, however, the design and renovation required demolishing all interior walls to ensure all materials were safe and healthy, as well as new windows for lots of natural light and a new exterior patio adjacent to the space for shadier outdoor morning recreation.

Throughout the design process, we worked closely with the studio’s Director of Art, Amy Kennan-Amago, who supplied us with direct feedback from the program’s clientele about what they wanted to see. It was critical that our design catered to them and their needs while also being fun and welcoming. 

Being there for the ribbon cutting and seeing the space in use was amazing. The artists were there to display and discuss their art and to demonstrate how having dedicated space has expanded their opportunity to be creative and express themselves. Creating a beautiful and functional design is a pleasure, but seeing it being used so well and to such a great end is an architect’s dream. 

We’re looking forward to seeing more artwork, creativity and community engagement developed in this space, thanks to Arc of the Piedmont’s devotion to their mission.

_________ - their website that talks about the project.



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