RACINE — Work is underway again on the building of a contemporary Downtown art studio and gallery that collapsed in a wind storm during an early construction stage last August.
At 601 Sixth St., Bukacek Construction is constructing a two-story, 3,400-square-foot building that will house an art gallery on the first floor and art studio on the second floor. Robert Osborne, who manages software development, and Vera Scekic, a visual artist, are having the building erected on a narrow, 20-by-90-foot lot between Sixth and Seventh streets.
Construction was in progress when, last Aug. 2, a blast of wind knocked down the 30-foot-tall, cinder block west wall built by Landmark Masonry of Waterford. It crashed into the vertical steel supports embedded in the concrete floor, bending and rendering them useless. That required repairs to the foundation last fall, and then the project was halted until about two weeks ago.
As of late last week, Bukacek had just finished rebuilding a new masonry wall. Bukacek used its own employees this time — not Landmark Masonry, which in January filed a $46,389 construction lien action in Racine County Circuit Court against Scekic and Osborne. The action has been filed only, according to online court records.
The owner of Landmark declined to comment for this story, as did Scekic.
The next construction steps are erecting the structural steel and then framing, according to Bukacek. Completion is expected about the end of this year.
The structure was designed by the architectural firm Johnsen Schmaling of Milwaukee, the same firm that designed Osborne’s and Scekic’s award-winning modern south-side home.
When their Downtown building is finished, Scekic will use the second floor as her studio, and the first floor will ultimately become an art gallery for her, she has said. Scekic mainly does painting but also “installation projects” based on science and scientific concepts.
The Racine native also curates art shows and occasionally writes about art. She and Osborne are patrons of local art and music, and Scekic does not sell her work locally to avoid competing with artists here.
Osborne and Scekic bought the Villa Street property out of foreclosure and razed a one-story building that was not original to the site. From the start, the couple have said they wanted to build something of architectural significance that would enliven the area and help spur additional development at Downtown’s west end.