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The BRA and UDR select The Society of Arts and Crafts for Pier 4 cultural space after competitive search

Jul 30, 2015

Newbury Street-based nonprofit will move operations to 20,000-square-foot space on South Boston Waterfront 

The Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) and Colorado-based real estate investment trust firm UDR have chosen The Society of Arts and Crafts as the future tenant for the nearly-complete cultural space at 100 Pier 4. The 21-story apartment building on the South Boston Waterfront includes two levels of interior space that will become the new base of operations for the nonprofit. The 118-year-old Boston institution will relocate after being headquartered for 40 years on Newbury Street, a move expected to enhance the organization’s ability to deliver creative programming to the public.

Images courtesy of Sasaki Associates
In April, UDR and the BRA released a Request for Interest to solicit programming ideas and a potential operator for the Pier 4 space. Architects at Sasaki Associates designed the winning proposal for the Society of Arts and Crafts’ new home, which will include eye-catching second floor window displays and a lively public plaza with artwork. The 20,000 square feet of civic and cultural space at Pier 4 is part of a larger plan to activate 127,000 square feet of dedicated public space along the waterfront, as envisioned by the municipal harbor planning process that the BRA has led with the community.

“The Society of Arts and Crafts is a homegrown Boston institution that has promoted local art and artists for over a century,” said Mayor Martin J. Walsh. “This new location will allow this incredible gallery to grow in a modern, energized environment that will better showcase local talent, and draw even more activity to the waterfront.”

"The Society of Arts and Crafts has a proud past and visionary future,” said SAC Executive Director Fabio J. Fernández. “We are thrilled to move to the Seaport District, a neighborhood that is as ambitious and forward-looking as we are." 
In this new location, The Society of Arts and Crafts will expand its reach and become a center for the craft and design community, connecting students, artists, collectors, and the public. A proposed artist-in-residency program will provide makers with a space to create their work in culture-rich Boston. Planned retail and exhibition galleries will show larger and more experimental work. Finally, the outdoor civic plaza will allow for collaborative and educational programming, and exhibitions can expand into this space to include public sculpture.

Images courtesy of Sasaki Associates
With a gallery that is always free and open to the public, The Society of Arts and Crafts will make craft accessible to all people visiting the waterfront, providing locals and tourists alike with opportunities to engage with artists, makers, and their ideas. The nonprofit’s first exhibition in the new location will be titled “Radius,” highlighting the talented makers located within a 5-mile radius of 100 Pier 4 who work in clay, metal, wood, glass, and fiber. The inaugural exhibition will be a clear signal of The Society of Arts and Crafts’ intent to collaborate with neighborhood artists and support Boston’s creative economy.

The Society of Arts and Crafts is in discussions with The Artist Book Foundation about some shared gallery or retail space, given their common values around high-quality craftsmanship and enhancing Boston's arts and culture landscape as nonprofit organizations.

“We’re very eager to see The Society of Arts and Crafts engage with the community and expand its offerings,” said BRA Director Brian Golden. “This historic institution will bring a unique perspective to the neighborhood, building on its past successes in a fresh and purposeful, community-driven way.”
The BRA hosted a public meeting in early July to allow finalists for the civic and cultural space to present their proposals. Steinway Society of Massachusetts and Celebrity Series of Boston were also in the running.
The Society of Arts and Crafts will join other waterfront destinations, such as the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston Children’s Museum, Boston Tea Party Museum, Artists for Humanity, Midway Studios, the Fort Point Arts Community, and the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.
100 Pier 4 is home to 369 apartments and features an original Dale Chihuly installation in the lobby. Ocean Prime, Cameron Mitchell’s flagship steak and seafood restaurant, will occupy the first floor. The restaurant is expected to open in November. 

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