While the "opening of the Artisphere" might sound science fictional, Rosslynites know by now that it puts Rosslyn on the map of arts destinations. The 53,000-square-foot "showcase for the arts," opening October 10th, will include an exhibition gallery, a Black Box theater for the Washington Shakespeare Company, ballroom, Wi-Fi cafe, four performance venues, and three art galeries, all converted from the building the once housed the Newseum.
Arlington chose The Lukmire Partnership and Clark Construction to renovate the interior, while keeping most of the exterior, in a design that is intended to achieve LEED certification for interior space, designation pending. Arlington officials set the October 10th date more than a year ago, and managed to stick the landing with regular events beginning immediately after the official pomp. "Artisphere" was the winning entry in a public contest that included "Planet 9," "Artopolis," "the Orb," "the Artseum," and DCMud's own rejected entries of "Rossdome" and "SphARTlington." Humph.
Officials promise a veritably transcendental arts forum with non-stop programming that will redefine art in the community. "Its an entirely unique model in the region and country in terms of diversity and amount of programming. I do think we are creating a new model for regional appeal and global programming," said Norma Kaplan, Division Chief for Arlington Cultural Affairs, which operates the Artisphere. "An important component is bringing in artists from around the world that will open up the door to new kinds of work and new connections." Kaplan promises "20 to 25 events" per week. Jim Byers, Marketing Director for Arlington Cultural Affairs, adds that between the impromptu, regular, and occasional big name performances, the building will be a consistent place of inspiration. "The usual experience is a big name that may draw you to a cultural center sporadically. While some of the programs will indeed be big names, our idea is to constantly engage the public and have them hang out there regularly at the wi-fi cafe or go to the art store, a much more holistic experience than seeing a few big stars per year."
The building is owned by Monday Properties with a 20-year lease to Arlington. Monday is also the owner of the land at nearby 1812 N. Moore Street in Rosslyn, where it recently announced it would begin construction on what will be Rosslyn's tallest building when complete.
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