For now, FutureMakers’ new space in Station North is a blank slate. But that won’t last.
“These walls won’t be white for much longer,” said Matt Barinholtz, who founded in 2012 the STEAM education-focused “mobile makerspace” that works in Baltimore, D.C. and Northern Virginia.
FutureMakers is relocating its Baltimore offices from the Baltimore City Robotics Center in Southwest Baltimore to the Motor House in Station North. Formerly the Load of Fun building, the redeveloped former Ford dealership between Maryland Avenue and Howard Street on North Avenue aims to provide affordable arts space, according to a representative of the Baltimore Arts Realty Corp. (BARCO).
Barinholtz said the move was a matter of space needs, as the organization’s Baltimore operation has doubled the size of its team of coaches in the last year to 22, and plans to multiply again.
“We needed a bigger boat,” he said.
At the same time, FutureMakers wanted space to prototype its programs. With makerspace plans sprouting up everywhere in Baltimore, Barinholtz stressed that the new FutureMakers space is not a “retail” space. To the extent that kids and families will be in the space, he sees it as a space for “live labs” where they can help test new ideas with both educators and families.
It’s also about the community, he said.
FutureMakers runs programs in partnership with others, whether it’s an area summer camp, school program or another youth-focused maker org like the Digital Harbor Foundation. With that, Barinholtz also sees FutureMakers benefitting from being near familiar faces from other building tenants like Arts Every Day. Also set to have space at the Motor House are the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance, Station North Arts and Entertainment District, Maryland Citizens for the Arts and the Neighborhood Design Center. The second floor is set to house artist studios, while the first floor will have a cafe and black box performance space.
“We could not be more pleased with the caliber of tenants who are putting down roots there,” BARCO President Amy Bonitz said in a statement. “Their opportunity for synergies and partnerships will be endless.”
In the neighborhood, they will also be close to organizations with a similar mindset in Station North. Youth-focused coding program Code in the Schools is at the just-as-recently-redeveloped Centre Theatre with a host of community-focused organizations. Over on Greenmount Avenue, the massive Open Works makerspace is slated to open next year with a goal of hosting community classes.
“There’s many, many different facets of need in Baltimore City and Greater Baltimore,” Barinholtz said. “For the organizations that want make things and are looking for coaches, we just want to make sure they’ve got a place where they can try it out and sample it here.”
A public grand opening for the Motor House is set for 2016. -30-