Image courtesy SIGNAL
Hence a military installation, today an art gallery. A new adaptive reuse project from Signal Architecture + Research has transformed a former coastal artillery fortification in Port Townsend, Wash. Into an eight-acre arts complex with studio accommodation, exhibition space and a new artist residency called Makers Square.
The project took three of Fort Worden’s warehouse buildings currently listed on the National Register of Historic Places and transformed what started as a harbinger of violence into a historically sensitive space for creative expression.
The former Quartermaster Warehouse is now a gallery space with new double-height ceilings and a gable roofline. Two writers’ studios occupy an extended attic and the basement has been transformed into the headquarters of the local KPTZ station with the help of engineering partner Arup. The two remaining buildings have become ideal canvases for new studio and education spaces and are anchored in the history of the site’s earlier use by the architect’s deliberate emphasis on reusing existing materials from the structures. 120 years old where possible.
The Signal design team made this possible through an exhaustive research and discovery process that produced a comprehensive account of the site’s âfootprint of past usesâ. The result is a pleasant mix of the new and the old that gives a new cultural form to an underestimated (but still interesting) typology.