In Fort Worth, Texas nonprofit Transform 1012 has selected B-arn-S Architects and ch_studio to convert the former Ku Klux Klan “klavern” No. 101 Auditorium into the Fred Rouse Center for Arts and Community Healing.
The principals in charge at B-arn-S Architects include Germane Barnes, Jennifer Bonner, and Christian Stayner. Dennis Chiessa, a principal at ch_studio, is listed as that firm’s lead architect on the project. Chiessa grew up in the area and his familairity with the neighborhood deemed him a good fit for the unique project. His community-oriented focus as an architect and professor, was important to the selection. “Dennis Antonio Chiessa is originally from Fort Worth’s Northside, where the building is located and was previously used as a tool to intimidate the largely Latino population living there,” Transform 1012 stated. “Chiessa’s personal connection to the area, as well as his work as an architect and professor, makes him an invaluable part of the team and he can continue his advocate work for the underrepresented communities through this project.”
The offices beat out three other shortlisted groups—Colloqate Design with BrandNu Design Studio; Elizabeth Kennedy Landscape Architect with Hines Architecture+Design; and UX Architecture, KP Design Studio, and EJ+P Architects—for the job.
“We look forward to embarking on this transformative journey with ch_studio and B-arn-S Architects,” said Carlos Gonzalez-Jaime, Transform 1012 executive director. “Their collective expertise, environmentally-minded design, and commitment to community engagement align perfectly with our vision for The Fred Rouse Center as a beacon of healing and creativity.”
“Klaverns” are former Ku Klux Klan headquarters. As reported by AN, there were over 2,000 klaverns built in the U.S. between 1915 and 1940 as far south as Corpus Christi, Texas and as far north as Fairbanks, Alaska. The Fred Rouse Center for Arts and Community Healing is named after a Black butcher who was lynched by Fort Worth klansmen in 1921.
In 2020, Transform 1012 purchased the abandoned klavern No. 101 Auditorium with the intention of adaptively reusing it as a social justice–oriented community center. Transform 1012 calls the project an act of “reparative justice,” the group said in a press statement. From there, Transform 1012 brought on MASS Design Group for an initial design concept, which culminated in 2021. After the design competition was announced in 2022, Transform 1012 received 27 submissions to redesign the space.
B-arn-S Architects and ch_studio were ultimately chosen by jurors to reimagine the abandoned auditorium. “Each team member brings a unique perspective to the project, whether it’s previous experience with cultural institutions, creative use of materials, expertise in racial equity in design, or a deep seated connection to the Fort Worth Community,” Transform 1012 said in a press statement.
Construction is set to begin in 2025, and the Fred Rouse Center for Arts and Community Healing will open in 2026.