'Studio B' Would Bring Artist Workspace to Bethesda Crescent Lobby

Brookfield Properties is proposing to offer up studio and exhibition space in exchange for the de-commissioning of three public art pieces.

A public workspace for three artists may soon be coming to the lobby of the Bethesda Crescent, adjacent to the Wisconsin Avenue Metro tunnel that was last year transformed into a vibrant public art display.

Bethesda Crescent owners Brookfield Properties will go before the Montgomery County Planning Board this week to seek approval to de-commission three public works of art in the buildings' lobby. In exchange, Brookfield is proposing to renovate a 1,200 square foot retail space into art studio and art exhibition space to be operated by the Bethesda Urban Partnership.

The space has been dubbed “Studio B,” according to a Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission staff report.

Studio B will have “work space for three artists, exhibition space for viewing by pedestrians walking to and from the pedestrian tunnel, and viewing space within the studio itself for visitors to observe an artist at work,” according to the report.

Brookfield will foot the bill for renovating the retail space, about $100,000, and is proposing to offer the space rent-free to BUP for a five-year term, according to the report.

Planning staff, however, are advising that the rent term be bumped up to ten years.

Nominal rent will be charged to the artists using the studio to help offset the operating costs, which will be managed by BUP, according to the staff report.

Brookfield hopes to renovate the lobby space of the Bethesda Crescent, several office buildings at the corner of East-West Highway and Wisconsin Avenue beneath which the Metro tunnel runs. Brookfield hopes to de-commission the three pieces of public art that are currently housed in the lobby because they are “not compatible” with the renovation plans, according to the report.

Brookfield is proposing to foot the bill to store two of the pieces—“Glass Jungle” by Patsy Norvell and “Ceiling Neon” by Stephen Antonakos—for a year after they are de-commissioned, at a cost of $75,000.

A third piece of art, “Wonder of Wonders” by Yuriko Yamaguchi, may find a new home at Dulles International Airport, according to the report.

Brookfield will also contribute $23,000 to BUP to reimburse the group for lighting upgrades in the Metro tunnel, along with $3,500 for art installation in the tunnel.

BUP lauded the proposal in a Nov. 21 letter to Planning Board Chair Francoise Carrier.

“We further wanted to enthusiastically express support for the amendment proposal for Studio B as a complimentary public art component to the Tunnel Vision project for the public to enjoy,” BUP wrote.


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