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Arts + Literature Laboratory

Project Information


Arts + Literature Laboratory


Madison, WI


10,437 SF


Performing & Cultural Arts


Engineering, Interior Design, Audio/Visual, Energy Modeling, Construction Administration



President | Chief Executive Officer


Project Manager | Senior Interior Designer

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Arts + Literature Laboratory interior


Multifunctional and Flexible

The Arts + Literature Laboratory is a community-based art center that seeks to encourage visual, literary, and performing artists to explore and develop their craft. Art + Lit + Lab required a new space to help them foster an inclusive artistic community that connects artists and resources through education and cultural outreach, as well as provide a space to showcase the work of both established and emerging artists and writers.

Our objective was to create a space that could operate in a multitude of ways and provide a welcoming feel for everyone within the community. Art + Lit + Lab needed a functional working environment for the variety of programs and artistic mediums used within the space. This included studio space for artists, a community area, an educational space, and a performance stage. As art is often showcased at Art + Lit + Lab, they also needed to display this art in unique ways.

Because this space required such a multiuse function within a limited space and budget, this design presented certain challenges. Space for textiles, pottery, literature, storytelling, live poetry, music, and other artistic mediums all needed to be included within the design. Art + Lit + Lab is not only a doer space but a learning space and required a design that was multi-use, accessible, easy to convert, and easy to navigate.


Open Up

Strang’s central solution for Art + Lit + Lab’s needs was an open concept, multifunctional space that could be used for a variety of people and events. The first-floor gallery is separated by large 8 ft wide doors that pivot on their center, allowing for the room to be divided or opened up to create even more space, as well as showcase art in an unconventional way. Large windows were utilized not just for their natural light, but to display art and generate interest in those passing by and looking in. The second floor also made use of these windows, bringing in light throughout all areas of the space.

A library, writing center, multiple studio spaces, and an open concept community studio that can be used for a multitude of functions are located on the second floor while the first floor allows for more event and education space as well as gallery options.

Finishes and colors were kept simple and unobtrusive to allow for the focus to remain on the art being displayed. Basic concrete, wood, glass, and matte finish paints were all chosen to help showcase the art as the main story of the space, rather than the design.

Art + Lit + Lab stands out due to its multifunctional nature. It is not just an art gallery, performance space, or classroom–it encompasses a multitude of mediums and communities. This multi-purpose concept is designed to appeal not only to serious professional artists, but also to provide a welcoming atmosphere to any community member, amateur artist, or educational program that would use the space.