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IBA selects female, Latinx design team for arts center

Celina Colby
Celina Colby
Celina Colby is an arts and travel reporter with a fondness for Russian novels.... VIEW BIO
IBA selects female, Latinx design team for arts center
Gallery goers enjoying the art at an IBA event. PHOTO: COURTESY OF IBA

Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción (IBA) has selected STUDIO ENÉE and Ann Beha Architects (ABA) to reimagine the historic Villa Victoria Center for the Arts in the South End’s Villa Victoria community. IBA leaders believe the diverse, Latinx and women-led design team will be able to connect with the community’s needs on a cultural level and design a space that will serve the area effectively and aesthetically.

“Specifically for this project in which we hope to make a wonderful, community-based arts and culture space, it’s important that we had teams and individuals who would bring a good understanding of culture and art in the Latinx community and in communities of color,” says Dr. Vanessa Calderón-Rosado, CEO at IBA.

A past IBA event. PHOTO: COURTESY OF IBA

A past IBA event. PHOTO: COURTESY OF IBA

The former Villa Victoria Center for the Arts at 85 West Newton St. was a beautiful historic building but lacked the effective systems needed to serve the neighborhood. The former church, built in 1898, had deteriorating HVAC systems; poor lighting, sound and acoustics; and a lack of space for the IBA offices. All of these were a hindrance in serving the public. When construction began on capital improvements, significant structural issues were discovered and the building was torn down in December of 2020.

Calderón-Rosado hopes that some of the architectural magic of the original building will be reborn in the new space, while upgrades will allow for more rigorous programming. The Villa Victoria Center for the Arts has been serving the Latinx community since 1986 and will continue to do so, she says. The demolition and construction of a new building is an unfortunate setback, but it will result in a new space that Calderón-Rosado anticipates will improve the quality of services provided.

Perhaps one of the most important upgrades will be consolidating the IBA team in one place. Currently IBA employees have offices all over the Villa Victoria neighborhood, which makes daily collaboration and productivity challenging. The new building will house the whole team under one roof.

“We hope to create a space that’s welcoming to the community and that has an ability to connect both with the street and the adjacent playground and municipal park, so there’s some transparency between the public space and the private space inside the building,” says Calderón-Rosado.

IBA has already held several meetings with the neighboring South End community and Villa Victoria residents and will continue to do so as the process gets underway. Community feedback is essential, says Calderón-Rosado. She anticipates that an initial design will be ready for discussion by the fall and construction can begin a year-and-a-half from now.

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