Lorton Workhouse Arts Center
Civic Buildings / Adaptive Reuse
Lorton, VA

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Lorton Workhouse Arts Center

Civic Buildings | Architecture | Interior Design | Design-Build

Originally founded in 1910 as the Occoquan Workhouse, the Lorton Correctional Facility in Fairfax County, VA represented a new approach to criminal punishment and reform for its era, offering prisoners the opportunity to acquire skills in an open-air setting, promoting individual growth, and easing the transition back into civilian life. Executed as a Design-Build for the BE&K Building Group, DC’s historic prison complex in Lorton, VA was transformed through adaptive reuse and revitalization into a visual and performing arts center for the Lorton Arts Foundation, a Virginia non-profit corporation dedicated to promoting and supporting the arts in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

The 10 structures renovated during the first phase of the multiple-phase project included the adaptation of eight existing Workhouse dormitories to house artist and dance studios, galleries, music rooms and administrative functions. Phase-one construction began with interior demolition and hazardous material abatement followed by mechanical, electrical and plumbing rough-in as well as utility installation and masonry restoration.

BBGM provided architectural and interior design services for the large adaptive reuse project that transformed the 56-acre site into one of the largest and most innovative arts centers in the United States. The Workhouse Arts Center at Lorton offers over 300,000 square feet of space dedicated to painting, pottery, sculpture, photography and galleries, a theater, events center, and 40 live-work artists’ residences.


AIA|DC Historic Resources Merit Award 

NAIOP Award of Excellence - Best Renovation

Fairfax County Exceptional Design Awards Program - Honorable Mention 

Project Details

  • Civic Arts Campus
  • Design-Build
  • Multi-Phase Project
  • Adaptive Reuse
  • 12 Structures
  • 300,000 SF
  • Masonry Restoration
  • 40 Live-Work Artist Residences
  • Theater
  • Events Center
  • Galleries
  • Music Rooms
  • Administrative Space