In the early 1990s, a group of Germantown, Maryland residents began to promote the concept of an arts center that would be located within their own community. Their idea became a rallying point for Germantown's active civic leadership. Within a year, the Germantown Cultural Arts Center, Inc. (d/b/a BlackRock Center for the Arts) was founded as a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) organization to develop, own and manage BlackRock.
Developers of the town center in Germantown, Maryland contributed the land, while the Milestone developers made cash contributions to be used for the construction of the new state-of-the art, 30,878-square foot facility. Sachs Morgan Studio, theater design specialists of New York designed BlackRock with Bowie • Gridley Architects, P.L.L.C. of Washington, D.C. serving as additional design consultants and completing the work. Synthesis, Inc. of Columbia, Maryland provided project management, and Hencken and Gaines Construction Company oversaw general construction.
For the design of BlackRock, the concept was to have art be part of the building, as an architectural component —not an afterthought. From committee discussions, the idea emerged that Germantown was at a crossroads in its history—it used to be a small town, but was rapidly growing, with even greater growth to come. The art center was symbolic of that growth—Germantown was now at a point in its development to warrant a quality art center. The lobby floor and monoliths are a tribute to Germantown's past. The terrazzo floor clearly shows that history, with its symbolic cornstalk and patchwork farm acreage, and tiling representing Seneca Creek, the railroad and BlackRock Mill. The monoliths are "earth casts," with the idea being that they come from the earth, the soil, so a part of Germantown's farming heritage is now part of the building through the earth cast monoliths. The monoliths show the strength and permanence of Germantown. The building pays tribute to Germantown's history, while being an integral part of Germantown's future. Commissioned by the committee to capture this philosophy, artist Thomas Sayre of North Carolina crafted the striking works of art.
The ground breaking was held in January 2001, construction was completed in the summer of 2002, and the building was opened to the public in September 2002. BlackRock Center for the Arts held its grand opening celebration on December 7, 2002.
I've been a member since Black Rock opened. The quality of the performances and exhibits rank way up there. I feel very fortunate to have the arts center in my backyard!
- Cheryl Pohlman, Patron