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Monday, June 10, 2019

First Look: The New Cleveland LGBT Community Center Prepares for Opening

Posted By on Mon, Jun 10, 2019 at 9:36 AM

click to enlarge The LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland is now located at 6705 Detroit Ave. - PHOTOS BY ALEXANDRA SOBCZAK
  • Photos by Alexandra Sobczak
  • The LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland is now located at 6705 Detroit Ave.
The LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland has officially planted its roots in a new location on Detroit Avenue. And while the new space won't be ready for the public until the end of the week, Scene recently took a tour of the new digs.

First off, the fresh space is a step up from the old basement location, also in the Gordon Square Arts District. The new building features large wrap-around windows, a bright yellow open staircase and a "sky-lit atrium," which create a space that is both physically and symbolically transparent, says David Thal of Weber Murphy Fox, the architect who designed the building. There is a basement level as well, but there is no programming space underground, which is also symbolic, Thal says.

The multi-purpose space — which includes lounges, meeting spaces, conference rooms, offices, a cyber center, a resource library, a teaching kitchen, medical and counseling rooms, a second-level open terrace and more — was designed to be as welcoming as possible. Phyllis Harris, the center's executive director, plans to be out and about in the center greeting and chatting with everyone, not staying in her office for too long, she says.

Vivid pops of color are found in the form of a fuchsia shelving unit (over which Thal and Harris excitedly high-five), the yellow stairs, a green wall in the historic "living room" and more.

"I think creating a neutral shell so that the center can really do whatever they need to with their programs, with... vivid pops of color that are unexpected, help identify certain areas," Thal says.

click to enlarge This first-floor lounge area features the piece "53 Rhombuses" by Cleveland artist Andrew Reach.
  • This first-floor lounge area features the piece "53 Rhombuses" by Cleveland artist Andrew Reach.

Another highlight of the center is its sustainability. The building features efficient lighting and mechanical systems, while also using only local and regional products.

The new space also allowed the center to increase its programming. Previously-established programming such as QYou, SAGE Cleveland, community groups and wellness programs will continue, but there will also be more meeting space for community groups, a teaching kitchen and a MetroHealth "Pride Clinic" among others. Medical care such as primary care, hormone replacement therapy and HIV testing will also be available from MetroHealth Hospital physicians on-site once a week.

"This is the legacy of all of those who were brave enough and bold enough ... to keep the center going before," Harris says. "I think it's a huge impact in terms of being the next stage in the center's history. Because we have street-level accessibility, because we have more visibility ... I think the impact will be some people will come out of isolation."

The center's ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled for Friday, June 14 at 11 a.m., with a community open house to follow.

click to enlarge img_5013.jpg
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