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Buzzards Bay Information Center gets a facelift by local Cape artisans

Visitors to Cape Cod

The former train station in Buzzards Bay continues its history of welcoming visitors to the region as the new home for the Cape Cod Canal Region Chamber of Commerce.

Visitors to Cape Cod are greeted by artisans’ interpretations of the region’s unique surroundings.

Summers on Cape Cod are for making memories. Travelers come from all over the world to wiggle their toes in the sand next to slowly rolling waves, explore the Cape’s many historical landmarks, or reel in a big striper along the Cape Cod Canal. But for tourists in need of directions or a guide to local activities, a quick stop at the visitor’s center is often their first experience of the Cape—and it can leave a lasting impression.

“Just as our home represents who we are, public spaces reflect who the community is,” says Boston-based Fort Hill Companies architect Anthi Frangiadis, who coordinated a recent renovation of the Buzzards Bay Information Center, operated by the Cape Cod Canal Region Chamber of Commerce. “If a public space is run down, it doesn’t reflect well upon the community. Public spaces should be uplifting.”

Frangiadis is a longtime member of the Cape Cod Canal Region Chamber of Commerce, and she often donates her time and talents to the chamber’s public events. It was while hanging artwork in the information center for the 2014 Centennial Celebration of the Cape Cod Canal that Frangiadis noticed the center looked “a little dreary,” she says. “I’m always very aware of my environment and what kind of experience it creates,” Frangiadis explains. “Our environments affect us in ways we’re not fully conscious of.”

Frangiadis consciously felt the visitor’s center was impersonal and institutional –  the opposite of welcoming. She shared her concerns with Canal Chamber President Marie Oliva, who agreed that the center could use some sprucing up. Together they applied and approved for funding through the town’s Community Preservation Act, and Frangiadis was given the task of facilitating the renovations, ultimately garnering a 2016 BRICC award for her efforts. “The first thing I noticed was that the center was lacking a focal point,” Frangiadis says. “And what’s the focal point of any visitor’s center? It’s the person welcoming you. So we wanted to create something special for the reception area.”

She contacted local artist Alvin Winant of Place Unique Forms, who creates one-of-a-kind textural map sculptures from computer-generated topographic data. Winant is one of several artisans whose work is featured at Frangiadis’ showroom, “The Drawing Room,” in nearby Marion.

“Anthi and I decided an intriguing idea would be to create an information desk that also helps visitors navigate this area of the Cape,” Winant says. Winant created a computer model of the Cape Cod Canal and surrounding shorelines of Sandwich, Bourne and Wareham. He carved a three-dimensional landscape from layered Baltic birch plywood and used tinted jewelry resin to create the map’s high tide mark, so as to mimic the waves on the shore.

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