As part of the Payette 2022 Martin Luther King Day of Service, Payette offered design service support to Elevated Thought, nonprofit organization that believes all young people should and could have access to wide-ranging, creative and alternative learning opportunities.
The objective for the Day of Service was to provide design ideas and visual imagery for a new creative center that would provide expanded space to house their growing organization. The city of Lawrence allows an organization or developer to take over ownership of city-owned property via an RFP and a $1 sale, with a vision to turn it into a sustainable benefit for the community.
Elevated Thought is applying to take ownership of a former library at 135 Parker Street. The site is well-situated, within walking distance to surrounding elementary and high schools, the Lawrence train station and downtown. The building is located on a corner lot of a busy street, providing the new creative center with the visibility it deserves. Additionally, McDermott Park, an existing small community park with a children’s playground, is located at the rear of the building, providing opportunity for further future community engagement programs and activities.
The new Creative Center is conceived as an anchor institution for the arts and culture in the city of Lawrence. Situated on a busy street, the front of the building is an opportunity for providing identity for Elevated Thought and creating an inviting public entrance. The large original windows will display the hub of activity on the inside, while simple rotating banners can promote events and gallery exhibitions without permanently modifying the architectural elements of the original building. A broken original lamp at the front of the building provides an opportunity to create an artistic sculptural entrance piece, identifying the center as one of arts and culture. With respect to the building’s history and city, we believe these small modifications will not be obtrusive to the building, but will create a sense of place for Elevated Thought and illustrate a safe, fun, and vibrant site that serves the community.
The former library is a 20,000-sf building spread over two levels; large enough to accommodate the organization’s current needs while leaving space for future expansion, and small enough to remain manageable in terms of both maintenance and operating costs. The main entrance level has 20-foot-high ceilings, large windows and an open floor plan that make this space highly adaptable and preferable for Elevated Thoughts’ program needs. While the lower level also has high ceilings, its smaller windows, makes it a more intimate space. The open floor plan will provide the flexibility that Elevated Thought requires as the organization continues to grow. Furthermore, the building has a working HVAC system, an accessible elevator and multiple means of egress which may be the most costly items when planning renovations and meeting building codes.
The planning of this building was conceived from what the building offered versus what Elevated Thought’s programs required. The program requirements can be split into two categories: “public” and “private.” The programs grouped into the public realm includes programs that want to be visible and on display to the public. The private realm of programs includes those that require quiet, focused and intimate spaces. Thinking about this building sectionally and in plan, the main entrance level, with high ceilings and street visibility through large windows, is ideal as an area of activity. The lower level, with smaller windows and by nature a more intimate atmosphere, can be an area for work and concentration.