This design was formulated as part of a National Endowment for the Arts grant given to Dubuque Iowa in 2012 for the advancement of art exhibit spaces within the city. This portion of the NEA grant focused on creating a permanent presence for the Voices show, a seasonal art exhibit and cultural event within the city’s historic warehouse district. The Voices show, was the first arts group to host a function in the warehouse district had helped to bring local attention to it’s preservation and revitalization. It was in search of a more permanent presence in the district with the ability to host events throughout the year.
The Voices gallery space had to accommodate a variety of arts related functions ranging from informal symphony performances, to dance shows, to art exhibits. There was a need for the space to be highly flexible allowing for certain portions of the floor to be closed off for smaller events. Anchoring the whole development was a speakeasy to be placed in the southeast corner of the building. The speakeasy would remain open outside of gallery hours so that the Voices non profit group could maintain a presence within the community as well as raise money for it’s programs.
The interior finish within the space was left as untouched as possible. It was quickly recognized by the Voices board that the gritty, beat up nature of the existing warehouse was one of the elements that gave their yearly event it’s unique flavor. Any efforts to try and “fix” or “clean up” the space were carefully avoided. For example, the handwritten Packer’s / Bear’s score from 1972 was left in it’s place on one of the wood columns, as were the patchwork of different sizes of wood flooring.