Mathews Architecture

Penland School of Crafts

The Penland School of Crafts, located deep in the mountains of western North Carolina, is a world renowned school of traditional and contemporary crafts including weaving, glassblowing, ceramics, papermaking, and jewelry, which began operating in the 1920s. The campus is a national register historic site with many individually listed structures.

Starting in the Fall of 2003, we have undertaken a variety of life-safety code analyses of various historic buildings on the Penland Campus which house dormitories, offices, the main campus dining hall and kitchen, retail shop, cafe, galleries and classrooms.

Many were built prior to state building codes and we have developed a master plan for renovation of these structures. We intially evaluated the Craft House, Pines and Horner and then moved on to evaluate Morgan and Lily Loom.

Phase I renovations undertaken in the Spring of 2004 included alterations that could be made within a short time frame to improve safety. Phase II renovations, more extensive in nature which included in some cases structural additions, were undertaken later.

Years earlier, as Mathews & Glazer, we designed the Bill Brown Glass Blowing Studio. Working with numerous glass artists and school administrators, we designed this 5,500 sq. ft. shop building to be compatible with other structures on the campus.

As Penland evolved into one of the world’s most prestigious glass-blowing schools, its 1977 studio could no longer accommodate the growing number of artists and students, particularly in light of the changes in technology which have transformed the medium in recent years.

Major considerations in the design and the choice of site were air circulation, safety, the conservation and recycling of resources, and the control of noxious fumes and noise. Spaces within the facility include the Hot Shop; the Cold Shop; lampworking, plaster/molds, and sandblasting areas; and classroom and work areas.

Unlike the previous studio, the new building is fully winterized for year round use, utilizing a heat collection system from the glass furnaces that maximizes energy efficiency.The facility was completed in May 1995, in time to host the annual conference of the internationally acclaimed Glass Arts Society (GAS), which was founded at Penland twenty five years ago.
The Pines building, at Penland School of Crafts
The Craft House.