Alpharetta Arts Center

The original Anthony Ames designed Mayfield branch library was replaced functionally when a new central library was built in downtown Alpharetta. This project repurposes the Mayfield Library into the Alpharetta Arts Center, a hub for Alpharetta’s community arts programs. Programs include exhibitions of local artists’ work, 50-250 person performances, arts instruction, painting and ceramics studios, camps, art tours, and other community-based special events and arts programming. While the existing, iconic elements of the original building were preserved (piano curved glass block wall and metal panel system), all of the windows, entries, canopy, and terrace were reconfigured to suite the building’s new purposes. The interior was fully gutted and rebuilt. The interior spaces were designed to maximize flexibility and multiple uses. The ‘front of house’ was designed to house art exhibitions, performances and special events. Portable art walls and adjustable lighting allow for gallery flexibility. A moveable wall allows the black box theater to open to the gallery and expand seating for large productions or events. The reception desk mirrors the glass block geometry while a folding panel system opens to reveal a serving buffet for events. The ‘back of house’ portions of the center were designed to support the more messy functions associated with producing art. The studios are a community resource for sculpture, pottery, ceramics, painting, quilting, etc.

Design Challenge

As a city project, city leaders wanted to ensure the new center would be useful to as many people as possible. The design team led 12 community input meetings, facilitating input about ways the community might use the facilities. The volume and diversity of input proved the need for the facility, but also created a challenge for developing a facility flexible enough to provide working and teaching space for painters, sculptors, potters, and jewelers; but also provide a place to showcase those exhibitions; put on plays; house arts based camps; and other special events. The design team worked closely with staff to ensure all of these programs could be accommodated.

Physical Context

The Anthony Ames designed library was an iconic structure in the community, but had fallen in disrepair. Additionally there were many elements of the original building that were not well suited to the vision of a community arts center, especially the sitting height, ribbon windows and inward facing front porch. The iconic elements of the glass block and metal panels were preserved, creating of sense of updating, rather than replacing, the building. The campus had a wonderful landscape of mature trees, which were all protected and incorporated into a landscape with sculpture, paths and azaleas.