Jan '05 - Sep '06
I was home a couple of weekends ago for a memorial service and decided to go downtown one night to get a coffee and take some pictures. In addition to photographing some of Manchester's numerous municipal parking garages (why can't Boston have any of those?), which were great for studying concrete structures, I ended up on Amherst Street, scoping out the recently completed New Hampshire Institute of Art studios. The office where I worked this summer did the design for the addition and renovation of a two-story masonry building, formerly home of Stan's Masury Shop, into a classroom studio building with a public art supply/book store and gallery on the first floor. I'm fairly confident in saying that it's the boldest building to be built in downtown Manchester in the past decade (except maybe the glass staircase addition to one of FIRST Center). NHIA had worked with the office Dennis Mires before in dorm renovations at the local YMCA building, so they pretty much gave him free range design-wise. I think, overall, the building is quite successful in respecting the existing building in scale and geometry, while allowing the addition its own aesthetic. The inside, which I couldn't get a look at since the building was closed for the evening, is also nice and quite simple, with the building's structure and mechanical systems exposed, but painted in neutral colors to allow the students' art to take the focus. The side entrance of the building, formerly a loading dock, has also been transformed into the main entrance for students accessing the studios on the second and third floors. I think Dennis did a nice job with the red mass intersecting the main building to denote that entrance. Stephen Peach, one of the other two architects at the office described that mass and the design to me very eloquently during a walk through this summer, and I wish I could remember it a little better to relay here. I've included some photos below.