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Pyramid Atlantic Art Center Finds New Home in Hyattsville

Pyramid Atlantic's downtown Silver Spring location.  Image credit: Pyramid Atlantic.

Pyramid Atlantic Art Center’s downtown Silver Spring location. Image credit: Pyramid Atlantic.

Pyramid Atlantic Art Center, the nonprofit that specializes in book arts and that hosts the nationally celebrated biennial Book Arts Fair, will relocate from its current location in Silver Spring, Maryland to the Gateway Arts District in 2016.

Despite the Montgomery County Council’s seemingly attractive offer to occupy a space in the new Silver Spring Library, Pyramid Atlantic opted out of a deal with the Montgomery County Council in November 2014 after about five years of negotiations.

In response to a solicitation for proposals in 2009, the Montgomery County Council initially selected Pyramid Atlantic, to occupy a 15,500 square foot space specifically designated for an arts organization. According to council records, the deal stipulated that in lieu of Pyramid Atlantic paying rent, the estimated $421,000 occupancy cost would be paid in kind through services to the community. The county would retain the option to renew the lease every five years for up to twenty years while maintaining the ability to terminate the contract after the initial five-year period.

However, after about five years of negotiations between Pyramid Atlantic and the county, the deal soured. As a result, Pyramid Atlantic began looking at locations outside Montgomery County, including Hyattsville and Mount Rainier, MD. The City of Hyattsville approached the arts center with an offer to relocate Pyramid Atlantic to a well-established arts district.

On May 5, 2015, the Hyattsville City Council approved a 25-year lease for the Arcade Building located at 4318 Gallatin Street that includes $200,000 for structural improvements to be paid with interest over the life of the lease. In addition, Pyramid Atlantic will have the option to purchase the Arcade Building for $1 after the 25-year lease expires.

Pyramid Atlantic's new home at 4318 Gallatin Street in Hyattsville, MD.  Photo by Phil Hutinet for East City Art.

Pyramid Atlantic’s new home at the Arcade Building located at 4318 Gallatin Street in Hyattsville, MD. Photo by Phil Hutinet for East City Art.

When asked about the move, Amina Cooper of the Arts & Humanities Council of Montgomery County said, “The county looks forward to serving Pyramid Atlantic in the upcoming year.”

While working out of their Silver Spring location, Pyramid Atlantic’s artistic director, Gretchen Schermerhorn, is preparing for the transition and slowly settling Pyramid Atlantic into its new neighborhood. Schemerhorn is helping architects plan a larger working area for staff in the new building and, this past spring, Pyramid Atlantic has hosted an event with Hyattsville’s Vigilante Coffee, their future neighbor located at 4327 Gallatin Street.  Schermerhorn looks forward to continuing partnerships with local establishments and strengthening Pyramid Atlantic’s relationships with the other members of the Gateway Arts District community.

Until the move is final, Pyramid Atlantic will continue to operate studios for artists-in-residence, hold classes and print handmade books at its Silver Spring, MD location.

Valerie Ippolito
Authored by: Valerie Ippolito

Valerie recently finished her master's degree in English at The George Washington University. Her interests include modern and contemporary literature, the visual arts, and popular culture.