Arts center to go out for bid

Fort nears construction of Makers Square

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The Fort Worden Public Development Authority is preparing for the first phase of development of Makers Square, a 7-acre arts, culture and education district in the heart of Fort Worden State Park.

The first phase of the project will include the rehabilitation of three historic buildings: 305, 308 and 324.

“We are narrowing in on our target date to release construction documents,” said Megan Claflin, the grants and public relations manager at the fort. “It will likely be some time in February.”

The historic buildings were once critical to the operation of Fort Worden as an Army post.

“Building 305 was the quartermaster’s storehouse,” Claflin said. “It was the central hub of activity. All the ins and outs of the fort would run through that building. … Then for about 40  years, it was a state park maintenance facility.”

The rehabilitation project will transform the buildings into multipurpose artist studios, classrooms, galleries and workspaces, with Building 305 as the “central hub.”

“It’s a landmarked place, it’s historic, so everything we do has to keep that in mind,” said Mark Johnson of Signal Architecture + Research, the architecture firm that is designing the rehabilitation of the buildings. “Building 305 was the first building built at Fort Worden, so for it to be the catalyst for Makers Square is really fitting.”

Building 305 will be transformed into a space with studios on one end and an art gallery on the other.

“At the north end, the studio will be about the raw potential for making art,” Johnson said. “It’s where things can get the messiest.”

The north studio will be designed as a space for working with clay, paint and other mediums. Moving south, the studios and classrooms will be more refined, Johnson said. They could be used as photography or design studios.

Then at the south end, a gallery will display artwork, closing the artistic circle from creation to presentation.

“Back when the building was used for the Army, really no space was wasted,” Johnson said. The design for the rehabilitated buildings is similar. Even the hallway can be used as a gallery, he added.

“It’s not a matter of preserving and putting it in a museum,” Johnson said. “It’s about getting it back to its original use, as a space for making things.”

Once the project goes out for bid, Signal Architecture + Research and the Fort Worden PDA will collaboratively monitor construction, Johnson said, to ensure historical preservation while creating a central hub to support the growth and evolution of Fort Worden into a destination for arts, culture and education.

“We want to reactivate the building for arts and education activities,” Claflin said. “Building 305 is envisioned as classrooms and studios, galleries and workspaces. It will be a multi-functional, multi-disciplinary facility.”

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