A Catalyst for Creativity: JCJ Architecture Makes Coltsville National Historical Park its New Home

Jcj Office 03 (JPG)
Jcj Office 02 (JPG)

by James E. LaPosta Jr.

Earlier this year, JCJ Architecture set out to find a new location for its Hartford, Connecticut studio — one that would enhance teamwork, promote serendipitous encounters, and offer a variety of spaces to support individual work styles and diverse project needs. The former Colt Armory, a historic factory complex built before the Civil War era, provided the perfect opportunity to create an agile workplace within the framework of a rich and textured industrial landmark that promotes collaboration, productivity, and brand expression.

After a fire destroyed a portion of the Colt Fire Arms complex in 1865, Elizabeth Colt rebuilt the factory and operations founded by her husband. Located along the Connecticut River and just south of Downtown Hartford, the building was a marvel for its time. With its iconic blue onion dome, 3-foot thick masonry walls, and long, narrow shop floors, the Colt East Armory was a center of 19th century U.S. industrial innovation.

The very characteristics that made the Colt Armory a highly successful manufacturing hub for 125 years — high ceilings, abundant daylight, and an open floor plan — offered the raw material to support a creative enterprise of the 21st century. In the same way that Colt’s shop floor constantly adapted to new industrial technologies, JCJ’s workplace is designed to respond to the ever-changing demands of a global marketplace. Within the shell of the historic structure is now a blended and modern workspace that supports the firm as it celebrates its 80th year in practice.