Saratoga County

Yaddo seeking approval for new artist studio space

The largest visual artist studio at Yaddo may be torn down to build a new work space for artists.

The largest visual artist studio at Yaddo may be torn down to build a new work space for artists.

Officials at the artist retreat on Union Avenue propose demolishing the Greenhouse Studios, a building constructed in 1986 on top of an old greenhouse foundation, and building a new structure in its place, said spokeswoman Lesley Leduc.

The 1,400-square-foot building houses two artist studios and bathrooms, and one of the studios is the largest on the campus available for visual artists.

“It’s in such a bad state of disrepair that it doesn’t make sense to repair it,” she said.

Yaddo has received historic review approval from the city Design Review Commission, said Bradley Birge, planning and economic development administrator for the city, adding the commission had no objections to the project.

“Clearly the building is starting to rot out from the bottom,” he said.

Yaddo still needs site plan approval from the Planning Board in order to move forward with the project. The project is on the June 27 Planning Board agenda, said Kate Maynard, the city’s principal planner.

Staffers are excited about the new building, which Leduc said would be the first “purpose-built” structure on the Yaddo grounds since the 1920s.

“Everything else started out as something else that we converted into studio space,” she said.

The plan would double the size of the current structure to 2,800 square feet and include living space as well as studios.

The new building would be accessible for those with disabilities and would be built with energy efficiency as a goal. It is designed like the stucco Tudor-style building that stands there now, Leduc said.

One of the new studios in the two-studio building will be intended for dance and performance art, while the other will remain dedicated to the visual arts.

Officials hope to start construction in August and have the new building finished by October 2013.

During construction artists will have to use other studio spaces on the campus. Each artist is assigned time to work alone in a studio, Leduc said.

“I think we’ve done our best to juggle the schedule a little bit,” she said.

The Greenhouse Studios are visible from the upper part of the public Yaddo garden, though most of the grounds of the 400-acre estate are closed to the public.

The retreat hosts artists year-round except for the month of September — usually about 220 artists per year. It was incorporated in 1900 by Spencer and Katrina Trask to serve after their deaths as a permanent home for artists, writers and musicians, an idea that came about after the couple’s four young children died.

Yaddo was first used for that purpose in 1926, following Katrina Trask’s death four years earlier.

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