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Pittsburgh Glass Center buys a building to house visiting students and artists

Master artists and students travel to the Pittsburgh Glass Center (PGC) from throughout the country and all over the world, and now they’ll have a place to stay.  PGC has purchased a vacant building in Garfield to be used as artist and student housing.

In addition to being a convenience for artists, PGC Executive Director Heather McElwee says the added space will likely expand interest in week-long classes and workshops.

“Not only will the house help to generate some earned income from the Glass Center,” McElwee says, “but we actually think it will increase the number of people participating in our Summer-Intensive program.  I think there are a handful of people who don’t even consider our program because there isn’t a housing option right now.”  

PGC was founded in 2001 by Kathleen Mulcahy & Ron Desmett as a public access school, gallery and art glass studio dedicated to teaching, creating and promoting glass art.

Located at 5447 Penn Avenue, the three-story building is in the middle of Bride Row, named for the “Bride on Penn Avenue” mural created by artist Judy Penzer, in collaboration with Jill Watson, Corolla Zap, and Dan Anthoniesen, in 1995.  The homes are unique on the avenue as they are set back and atop a small hill.

The building, just one block from the Glass Center, was most recently home to the former Kim’s Coffee Shop, a Vietnamese restaurant.  The sale of the building was faciltated through the Bloomfield Garfield Corporation.

Although renovations are needed, McElwee says the Glass Center plans to keep with the architectural tradition of the home and the row.

McElwee expects the first-floor former restaurant space to be repurposed as a community space, available to visiting artists.  The upper floors would be developed as private and semi-shared housing space.

Ben Imhoff and Anne Chen, of EDGE studio, are working with the Glass Center on the building’s renovations.  McElwee anticipates the housing to be open by summer of 2014.

There are eight other Victorians along Bride Row, with at least one that is owner occupied.  The others are owned by Friendship Development Associates, who are working to find redevelopment plans for the remaining homes.

Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Heather McElwee
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