Studios, Facilities & Housing

About the Doris Leeper Studio Complex

Nestled on a 69-acre ecological preserve on the edge of pristine Turnbull Bay, the Atlantic Center for the Arts provides a tranquil yet stimulating setting that inspires artists from around the world to rejuvenate, collaborate and create. Envisioned and founded by environmentalist, painter, and sculptor Doris Leeper in 1977, the artists-in-residence facility brings talented artists together to work with distinguished mentors in literary, performing, and visual arts. 

The original buildings, including the Administration Building and Gallery, Whatmore Commons, and Thompson Fieldhouse were built in 1982, and designed by architect Will Miller. Phase One of the $3.1 million Leeper Studio Complex began in September 1994, and included the construction of the black-box theater, the painting and music studios, and the renovation of Whatmore Commons. Phase Two construction began in March 1996 and included the dance studio, library, and sculpture studio. Keeping true to the rustic Florida Cracker-style, all the buildings are constructed from stained cedar, with lead-coated copper roofs. Inspired by the site’s dense, jungle-like vegetation, Charles Rose and Maryann Thompson of the Cambridge, Massachusetts firm, Thompson & Rose Architects, designed the Leeper Studio Complex as separate structures connected by a winding boardwalk. Both separated and linked by the boardwalk and the jungle, the studios each afford the necessary privacy and spatial focus for individual creative activity. The boardwalk acts at once as a walkway, theater, and informal gathering area – a space for interdisciplinary discourse and collaboration at the Center. The firm has received numerous awards for the design of the Leeper Studio Complex. 

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  • 1998 American Institute of Architects National Honor Award for Design Excellence
  • 1997 AIA Honor Award
  • 1997 AIA New England Honor Award for Design Excellence
  • 1997 ID Magazine Annual Design Review, Design Distinction Award
  • 1996 Boston Society of Architects Design Honor Awardx1995 Progressive Architecture Award: Citation
  • 1995 American Wood Council Honor Award
  • 1993 Boston Society of Architects Unbuilt Architecture Award

Full studio equipment list is available for view online. Note the list is updated yearly.


Joan James Harris Theater

The 2,500 square feet black box theater acts as a functional work and performance space for artists-in-residence. The design concept is to provide a space that can be manipulated to fit the changing needs of each residency. Events and performances are held in the round and in a traditional theater-style seating arrangement. The theater is equipped with a professional lighting grid that can also be customized for each residency and performance. The glass lobby is also used as a secondary exhibition space to welcome the public to ACA events. 


Charlotte Battle Everbach Painting Studio

The 1,885-square foot Painting Studio is fitted with large northern exposure windows and light monitors that can be opened to provide natural ventilation and light. Replaceable Homasote panels let artists attach or mount many materials to the walls. Worktables and portable walls make the space extremely versatile and accommodating. Typically, the painting studio is organized into a collegiate style arrangement of 6-8 cubicles with multiple clamp lights for each space. 


Jim and Alexis Pugh Sculpture Studio

The 1,233 square foot Sculpture Studio gives artists-in-residence the space and equipment required to undertake ambitious projects. The space is the only concrete studio in the complex, which is symbolic of the enduring materials used by sculptors. The roof is designed with a long overhang that shelters an outdoor work patio. With its three roll-up doors opened, the space flows easily from interior to exterior. Large glass windows and louvers maximize working light, while wind scoops provide ventilation for an active studio. There are many tools in this studio for working with wood, metal, and many other materials. Other specialized tools can also be requested during ACA Residencies.


Helene B. Roberson Dance Studio

The 2,609 square foot dance studio is outfitted with a sprung wood floor and an expansive, wall-length mirror. The space also features magnificent sliding glass doors, which offer a splendid view to the lush landscape, access to a semi-private deck, and options for controlling the climate of the studio. The sides of the studio adjacent to more public areas are built with sand-blasted windows to provide privacy and diffuse lighting for dancers and choreographers. 


Ruth Scorgie Hubbard Music Studio

The 1,000 square-foot Music Studio was designed to be both insular and uplifting with a full recording and production studio, a sound booth and practice room. The tall, vertical space is outfitted with a large skylight giving the studio great natural daylight and ambiance at night. Permanent and mobile sound panels are installed to reduce reverberation and to allow artists to control the aural qualities of the room. The practice room doubles as a smaller, isolated recording room allows multiple artists to work on projects simultaneously.


Jean and Frederick Raffa Writing Studio

The Jean and Fredrick Raffa Writing Studio was named in honor of longtime ACA friends, members, and supporters Jeanie and Fredrick Raffa in 2013. The studio was remodeled and includes all the amenities needed for writers of all disciplines. The 540 square foot room features a 12-foot-tall window overlooking the nature of ACA, a coffee bar, reading loft, conference table with seating for 10 and equipment for research and printing materials. 


Wilkinson Resource Library

Overlooking Turnbull Bay, the 876-square foot library provides a large reading room surrounded by shelves of books, periodicals, scores, CD’s, and videos. A spiral staircase leads to a loft that provides comfortable seating and a view of the tranquil bay. The library also contains a computer and wireless internet for online research and a video viewing station. The library’s collection is continually growing through generous donations from artists in residence and members of the ACA community. 


Thompson Field House Media Lounge

The Field House is one of the original working and living spaces of artists in residence. After the construction of the Leeper Studio Complex, the Field House has evolved into a media lounge that offers a 50” HDTV connected to popular streaming services allowing artists to share their multimedia projects and favorite films in a comfortable setting.


Commons (Dining Room)

A guest chef prepares meals for all resident artists Monday through Friday during the residency. A continental, self-service breakfast is provided each morning from 8:00 AM – 1:00 PM consisting of fruit, cereals, bagels, muffins, and coffee/tea. A buffet style lunch is served each day from 12:30 PM – 1:30 PM and typically includes a vegetarian and non-vegetarian dish, a large salad and sandwich options. An evening meal is served from 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM and includes vegetarian and non-vegetarian main dishes, vegetables, salad, and dessert. 

The Chef works to provide a variety of meals during the residency that meet the wide-ranging tastes of a typical residency. Artists with specific diets and food requirements should inform ACA before their residency of their needs. All leftovers from each meal are wrapped and placed in the two refrigerators located in the kitchen designated for Associate Artist use. There are no meals provided at the weekends, but the kitchen is available for cooking meals and dining. The kitchen and dining facility is accessible 24 hours a day. Resident artists may store food in the refrigerators provided and may shop for food necessary for weekend meals during the twice weekly trip that ACA provides to the local grocery, health, and drug stores. 

There is a loft located in the commons with lounge seating and internet access. We also have several bikes which residents may use for their leisure. 


Associate Artist Housing Complex

Associate Artist Housing consists of 28 individual rooms divided into two wings. Each unit is equipped with a full-sized bed, work desk, radio alarm clock, small refrigerator, and private bath with shower. Bed and bath linens are provided. Housekeeping services are not provided during the residency. 

Wireless internet is provided in Associate housing, but the rooms do not have a television or phone. 

Coin-operated laundry machines are located beside room 15 of Associate Housing, and they cost $1 per machine. 

Of the 28 rooms, four are designed to be handicap accessible suites with required accessibility features and an extra bed for a caretaker. Please notify an ACA staff member if you need one of these units during a program or if you have further questions about housing. 


Mentoring Artist Cottage Housing

The 3 one-bedroom cottages, tucked away from the studios, offer privacy and expansive views of nature. These 800 square foot deluxe tri-level cottages boast an open living area with 20-foot ceilings, an elevated kitchen with all amenities including laundry facilities, loft style bedroom and private outdoor deck. 

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