The Original Artist Cooperative
In the early 1980s, urban redevelopment forced over a hundred artist out of the downtown studios they had lived and worked in for 10 years. Realizing that artists brought vitality to an otherwise moribund area, developers were encouraged to include artists, in their plans. The Lowertown Lofts Artist Cooperative was founded by a consortium of artists, developers, foundations the St. Paul Art Collective (SPAC), and the city of St. Paul who worked together to convert the top three floors of a turn of the century warehouse into artist studios.
The architectural firm of HGA, which then had a national reputation for designing museum additions, worked with a core group of future members to shape a building to accomodate the need for community as well as workspace.
Central to this concept is a three story atrium with two skylight bays that bathe the interior in natural light. A high row of windows in each studio provides pricacy as well as light from the atrium. Wall space beneath the windows is available for atrium exhibitions. Fifth floor units also have individual skylights. Originally raw spaces with bathroom and kitchen sink, most units have been developed to accomodate individual artists' needs, and changed over the past 30+ years. Unit are available in three sizes: approximately 500 square feet, 900 square feet and 1270 square feet.
We're very proud of our cooperative's history. For more information on the history of our neighborhood and the part our co-op played, watch this Twin Cities Public Television documentary free online: Lowertown: the rise of an urban village