Steel Yard announces $2.8M studio renovation

ON THURSDAY, The Steel Yard announced a $2.7-plus million renovation to its Providence-based headquarters. / COURTESY THE STEEL YARD
THE STEEL YARD announced a $2.8 million renovation to its Providence headquarters. / COURTESY THE STEEL YARD

PROVIDENCE – Looking to increase the communal studio space available to local artists and the public, on Thursday The Steel Yard announced a $2.8 million renovation of its 12,000-square-foot Providence headquarters.

The nonprofit industrial arts organization’s renovation, known as the Super Studio Campaign and designed by Providence-based KITE Architects, will encompass updates to the heat, ventilation and electrical systems; will include the integration of solar power; and the will create a multi-purpose community space.

A breakdown of the renovation expenses is as follows:

  • Design and planning: $150,000
  • Construction, labor and materials: $1.7 million
  • Solar panels: $220,000
  • General development costs: $373,000
  • Reserve and operations: $370,000
THE STEEL YARD’S planned renovations will allow the nonprofit to remain open year round. / COURTESY THE STEEL YARD

The Steel Yard is said it is relying on a diverse set of sources to fund the renovations including the R.I. State Council on the Arts, the City of Providence’s Community Development Block grant program, The Nordson Foundation, the 1772 Foundation among other foundations and individual donors.

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As of Thursday, The Steel Yard has raised 66 percent, or $1.8 million, toward the renovation’s expected price tag.

While today, The Steel Yard is open for use eight months out the year, an up-to-date heating system will add 1,800 hours of operational time to the nonprofit’s calendar and allow for year-round access to the facility.

Between 30 and 50 new youth partnerships will be available once The Steel Yard is open year-round as well as 240 additional hours of paid training programs for low-income Rhode Islanders, 450 more paid teaching hours for working artists. The group also expects to see an additional 150 course registrations per year once the renovation is complete.

Those added hours, per data from The Steel Yard, would translate into $183,000 in additional income for the nonprofit. They expect to spend some of that income purchasing goods from other local businesses; in payments to teachers, fabricators and public artists; on trainee stipends for low-income Rhode Islanders; and on new operating costs.

The eco-friendly nature of the renovation will see a 40 kilowatt solar panel array feed into the local power grid, the removal of 400 square feet of asbestos and replace multiple windows which help keep heat in and allow for the passage of natural light.

An industrial arts center, The Steel Yard is a manufacturer of custom and functional public art, a craft school, shared studio and unique outdoor venue. Its 3.8 acre campus and 12,000-square-foot studio are listed on the National Historic Register. / COURTESY THE STEEL YARD
An industrial arts center, The Steel Yard is a manufacturer of custom and functional public art, a craft school, shared studio and unique outdoor venue. Its 3.8 acre campus and 12,000-square-foot studio are listed on the National Historic Register.

Per Steel Yard data, hundreds of local artists – from welders, blacksmiths, jewelers, ceramicists, woodworkers and practices of the foundry arts – as well as more than 500 students receiving free or subsidized courses rely on the studio space and equipment owned by the nonprofit to, per its mission, “practice and learn the industrial arts.” Having reached maximum capacity in many of its arts programs, The Steel Yard knew renovations were the only solution to meet the demand on its space.

The Super Studio capital campaign committee includes Steel Yard Board Chair Jennifer Carnevale, Nicolas Bauta, Dr. Joseph A. Chazan, Peter and Lucia Gill Case, Nat Harris, Dan Levinson, and Manya K. Rubinstein. The committee is chaired by Chair Clay Rockefeller.

Emily Gowdey-Backus is a staff writer for PBN. You can follow her on Twitter @FlashGowdey or contact her via email, gowdey-backus@pbn.com.