The Lawrenceville Maker Center project envisions a community center for all ages that focuses on community empowerment through teaching and providing spaces for various kinds of craftwork, from small handwork to large-scale digital fabrication and robotics. Our guiding principles in this project were flexibility, accessibility, and transparency, in all senses of the words and throughout all scales.
To this end the building is quite open and permeable to the street and alley, with hand-operable garage doors providing air and views to the busy makers within, and incentivizing passersby to stop in and see what’s going on. The interior organization of the maker center is also quite open - it strives to be as flexible as possible, considering the diversity of people and projects that the building houses. Enclosed rooms are avoided as much as is feasible. Instead, Alyssa and I tried our best to delineate and define space with moveable partitions and furniture, with any built-ins being as low as possible to provide sightlines up and down through the building. For purposes of both curiosity and security, most of the levels are visible from the other levels of the building.
One of the most important parts of the maker center is the roof terrace, which is both a work and gathering space. It is shaded and sheltered by hand-operable, louvered panels that in their “closed” or “rest” positions serve to shade the third-floor classroom spaces.
The elevational composition is meant to mediate between the residential and commercial street characters immediately adjacent to either side of the site in a contemporary way. This too is in keeping with our desire to be flexible, accessible, and transparent, as a community center - while certainly representing a progressive, future-oriented perspective - should also respect the existing character of its neighborhood.