The purchase of the former Porteous, Mitchell, and Braun Department Store building on Congress Street allowed Maine College of Art to unify its studio majors, library and administrative offices into one building. The vision of the College was to give students and faculty an environment of open sharing and expression of thinking, allowing the individual traditional arts programs to be inspired by the larger arts community. The ICA gallery and the library allow the College to reach out to a broader based network of artisans.
Intensive programming, working closely with faculty, and students, led to a
well thought through design of the various studio spaces and planning for future growth. Since enrollment of the art majors is unpredictable, flexibility in majors space is imperative to the success of the College. Reinforcing the notion of cross-pollination of the arts, majors are allowed and encouraged to share space with various disciplines.
As the anchor for the then developing Portland Arts District, restoration of the 1904 Beaux-Art façade needed special care and attention. Working carefully with the contractor and the unique skills of various trades, massive windows were restored to original working condition, limestone and terra cotta cladding was re-pointed and, in some cases deteriorated pieces were recast using models from the original façade. The transom windows have prismatic glass tiles, an early method of day lighting, that were fully restored.
Teaming up with the Croxton Collaborative, Briggs Associates and J&M Lighting Design, the building has state-of-the-art ventilation while maintaining an Energy Star rating.