So in the previous post, I described the business model for a CRADLE arts organization. Today, I’d like to describe what the space might look like.
This morning, I met with Tim Riddle of Del-Tec Homes, which is headquartered here in Asheville NC. Del-Tec creates beautiful round homes and buildings that are shipped all over the world and then built on-site.
It is my hope that Del-Tec will become a partner of CRADLE, and provide the buildings we will use across the nation. Let me explain why.
1. The roundness. In addition to the unique look of a Del-Tec home, the round design puts all of the weight-bearing walls on the outside. Because of this, the inside walls can be configured in whatever way is most appropriate, so that if needs change, they can be easily reconfigured without costly renovation costs. This flexibility allows the CRADLE organization to accommodate new directions without abandoning a site to build another. Furthermore, should a CRADLE affiliate for some reason be unable to survive, the building could be reconfigured and sold as a private residence.
2. The roundness (part 2). A Del-Tec building has a roof that rests on the outside walls and then rises to a central point, providing a high, open ceiling with beams that can serve as supports for lighting equipment.
3. The greenness. Del-Tec buildings are energy efficient. Indeed, studies have shown that you can save up to 45% on utilities. This is true for a number of reasons. First, there is a tighter building envelope, because the buildings are built to specific design specs in a quality controlled factory environment. As a result, for instance, windows are installed tighter. Also, a circular building has less exterior surface than a rectangular home of the same size, which translates into higher energy efficiency. In addition, Del-Tec has integrated passive solar into its designs, and is also able to easily install solar panels on the roof. In fact, the Del-Tec factory itself is run on 100% renewable energy through on-site energy generation and renewable energy credits. Del-Tec homes are built with sustainably harvested lumber, recycled content roofing, and environmentally preferred building materials. According to their brochures, “Our focus is to build homes responsibly by minimizing environmental impact and providing a sustainable structure that is healthy to live in, durable, and highly energy efficient.
4. The modularity. Del-Tecs come in many different sizes, and include “connects” and “wings” that can be added to the central unit to create additional spaces for specific purposes. For instance, there might be a smaller wing with separate rooms for music lessons, or another that would serve as a dance studio or a painting studio. Each would be designed in advance, so that each affiliate could choose which add-ons would be most appropriate to that community. Better yet, these additions can be made later in the life of an affiliate organization, when it might need to expand its programming.
5. And the cost? Right now, Del-Tec is changing its pricing structure, so I don’t know. But from past pricing, I believe that a basic building can be built for less than $500,000. However, that is really a ballpark at this time. If it is much more expensive, then this option will have to be reconsidered.
But why not renovate a pre-existing building? Wouldn’t that be a better solution? From one perspective, repurposing a vacant downtown retail space, for instance, would have several advantages. For instance, many small communities want to use the arts to revitalize the downtown area, and there would probably not be the space to build a new building. Even if there was, a Del-Tec might clash with the architectural style of the area. Furthermore, occupying an existing building would, in essence, be like recycling something.
While I would not rule out a renovation project entirely, and there might be some communities where it really is the best option, in the long run the renovation of old buildings to meet modern code, especially for a performance space, can be expensive. To make an old building green adds another layer of expense as well. But the strongest argument for a new building may be psychological.
It is my hope that CRADLE will help to make the arts a central part of the life of whatever small community we are invited to join, and as such I would like to avoid the old “hermit crab” notion of the arts making do with cast-offs. I want an affiliate organization to be an attractive, though not opulent, destination for community members. I want the place to be as aesthetically pleasing as the creative work that exists inside of it.
It is my intention to apply for a Ford Foundation “Space for Change” grant to develop the prototype of a CRADLE building, and then to build it as part of a pilot project. To that end, I am now looking for communities who would like to partner with CRADLE in this endeavor. I am looking for a community of less than 20,000 – 25,000 population (although there is some flexibility) that is not a suburban bedroom community for a metropolitan area. Ideally, there would be some level of diversity in the community, whether that means race, class, ethnicity, age or whatever. I would like there to be support from community leaders, and a willingness to commit to the development of CRADLE’s mission. This does not necessarily mean an investment of public money — it is my intention that CRADLE become economically sustainable very quickly — but simply a positive show of support. I will discuss this more in the future, but in the meantime, if you know of a community that would fit our requirements, please let me know about it in the comments, or by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ideas? Comments? I’d love to hear from you!