Torpedo Factory Arts Center 2.0

Alexandria, VA

Quick Facts: 

Client:  Route 66

Market: Public/Civic

Size: 106,000 gsf

Services: Architecture, Planning

When the Torpedo Factory Art Center was unveiled in 1974, the development and investment by the City was a tremendous success with many locals and tourists visiting the Center throughout the year and providing a thriving economy for the City of Alexandria.

“The mission of the Torpedo Factory Art Center is to foster connections among artists and the public that ignite the creative spirit. We provide dynamic interactions with the arts through our community of visual artists, exhibitions, and programs. We offer art up close, in person, and in progress”.

Today, more than 45 years later, there is a unique opportunity to update the mission and programming of the TFAC with a broader and more inclusive vision that better aligns with the diversity and interests of the City. Embracing an expanded vision for the TFAC is critical to fulfilling its potential as the epicenter of the Alexandria waterfront in the decades to come.

Our approach to revitalizing the Art Center starts with expanding the reach to recognize various types of artists and their respective crafts including the culinary arts, multimedia arts, computer generated arts, graphic arts and other forms of artistic expression. While still maintaining the mainstay of visual artists that are the backbone to the Art Center, we propose to add additional art programs throughout the facility.

As part of our vision to increase the visibility of all artists we are also proposing to add other programs to increase the visitation of the Art Center. We are proposing that the culinary arts become a part of the TFAC, through a world class food hall on the ground floor that will showcase the culinary talents of a diverse set of proprietors. A well designed and curated food hall will create a dynamic and powerful year round draw for visitors to the TFAC.

The second floor will consist exclusively of working artist and gallery spaces to reflect and showcase the visual arts that have been at the heart of the TFAC for the past 45 years. The presented plan calls for ~50 spaces across the 2nd floor for this purpose. There are a variety of economic and programming models that can be embraced for this purpose.

The third floor is intended to cover the addition of 21st century arts, including a maker space for physical creations, a digital art and media lab for digital and social media creations, a center for entrepreneurship + incubator space for local business creation, and a rotating exhibition space to keep the TFAC fresh and continuously updated.

A key ingredient to transforming the potential of the TFAC is the development of a new top floor that embraces a new home for the Alexandria Archaeology Museum, a new event space for conferences and events, a new restaurant with stunning waterfront views, and a publicly available indoor/outdoor observation deck. Our vision includes two new high speed elevators to invite visitors to the top floor, where we propose includes the display of the historic ship hulls recently unearthed from the waterfront. The top floor also includes an event space for conferences and weddings, a destination restaurant and an indoor/outdoor observation deck for the public. A new, open air atrium in the center of the building will bring natural light to all floors of the building as well as invite visitors to take the stairs from the top floor down to the lower floors, to be able to explore more of the building.