The Vandergrift Improvement Program hired FISHER ARCHitecture in late 2009 to design their new community center. Located twenty miles north of Pittsburgh, Vandergrift features a curved street plan designed by NYC Central Park designer, Frederick Olmstead. Our idea was to bring those curved forms into an abandoned Grant Street JC Penny’s building in the guise of curtain clad incubator businesses. Although the shell and core are designed as simply as possible, the curtain structures activate the large open space. The businesses will share space with an offices, an art gallery, and a stair that leads to an open mezzanine entertainment space. Above, four green-roof clad, two-story, artist-in-residence lofts and an outdoor sculpture court fill the upper floors.
Community members requested that we add an outdoor cafe in front of the building on Grant Street. As well, we have proposed adding a digital billboard above that would communicate civic info during the day. At night, our plan is to close Grant Street and show movies! Although we are certain that this would be a fun place to work, live, and play, and although we have the Mayor and the Vandergrift Improvement Organization on our side, the design development is on hold as the search for funds continues.