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Glass Studio

Alex Bernstein is a local artist who creates sculpture from glass and metal. His process involves a number of steps and utilizes kilns, welding and sandblasting equipment, and various grinders, and saws to shape each piece.

This project converted a 3,000 square foot metal building (a former pool hall) into a light-filled working studio space. On my first visit to this dark, smoky, windowless building it was hard to envision the end result — but this building was truly transformed.

The construction budget was very limited so we had to stay focused on priorities. First, to create the technical work spaces needed to produce the art: a kiln room, a welding room, a cold shop, and a large open room that could be used for office space, gallery-style display area, and packing and shipping. The second priority was to introduce natural light (and its warmth) to the wet, cold shop space; and to add as much natural light as possible to the other interior spaces in order to create an environment that was pleasant work in.

Because of the limited budget and the necessity of having full height walls to separate the work spaces, windows were added sparingly to the exterior at the cold shop and in the front corner of the open area (there the new windows exposed a great view of the industrial buildings across the road and the French Broad River beyond). To spread the light throughout the building, we came up with a detail to use polycarbonate panels on the upper portion of the walls, and finished the cold shop walls with thin, brushed aluminum panels that reflect light.

Photographs by Amy Alday

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