Torpedo Art Factory’s Action Plan: Rejuvenating an Alexandria Institution

There is no doubt that the Torpedo Factory Art Center is an Alexandria landmark. From its beginnings as a munitions factory during World War I and World War II, to its transformation into an arts center in the 1970s, the building has been an important feature along the seafront of Alexandria and attracts around 500,000 visitors most years.

Changes can be made to the historic building. After years of studying and reporting on how the City can make the 76,000 square feet more accessible to the whole community, the City released a Action plan for dynamism and sustainability at the Torpedo Factory Art Center.

There are several ideas in the action plan, but there is no timetable for implementation, nor certainty that the plan will finally materialize.

One of the plan’s visions includes increasing programming, education, events and interactive opportunities at the Art Factory to appeal to a wider audience, including families with young children and the elderly.

Another element of the plan calls for expanding the types of art featured to include culinary, musical, technological and performance arts in a bid to bring more vitality and diversity to the center.

According to the City plan, the first level of the building could be redesigned to become the focal point of the new center with an extension Target Gallery and possibly a Arts League Shop. The waterfront entrance to the building will become the main entrance to the center with the aim of integrating the building into the larger vision of Alexandria’s waterfront.

The third floor will also be redesigned to accommodate the increase in programs and have the potential to generate rental income.

A rooftop cafe and restaurant are listed as possible additions to the center, but they won’t be the focal point of the revitalized Torpedo Factory Art Center. (Previous reports by other news outlets that a “food hall” or “food court” was coming to the Torpedo Factory Art Center were incorrect.)

New contemporary policies and procedures that align with the new vision will be implemented along with a long term plan for the sustainability of the Torpedo Art Factory.

Other ideas could also be put forward. In a Facebook post, Council member John T. Chapman wrote that he was working on another idea based on his trip to Germany last year.

The challenge, Chapman noted, is that “it will take real money to keep it as an arts center and update it as it should.”

The cost of revitalizing the center is estimated at $10-15 million as it is implemented over the next decade.

Ultimately, the goal of the action plan is to ensure that the Torpedo Art Factory welcomes as wide an audience as possible while maintaining its purpose as a haven for the arts. It will continue to be managed by the City of Alexandria Arts Office. Learn more about the action plan of the Torpedo Factory Art Center here.

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