Our very own Mr. Fix-It is tearing it up in the shop: the Facilities Manager tells all
As Marin Art & Garden Center is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, it’s no surprise that there’s quite a lot of maintenance and repair needed to keep our historic facilities in good working order. We are very lucky to have a facilities manager who is a master of making do, and tackles projects large and small for the Center.
Ken Cottrell joined the staff here in 2014, after a long career as a contractor. Ken grew up in Menlo Park, then enlisted in the Navy, where he served in the amphibious fleet in the Western Pacific. The Navy sent him to the Department of Defense journalism school, after which returned to the fleet in Da Nang.
Once he returned to California, Ken found his calling in the construction business. He can point out homes all around the Ross Valley that he worked on as he raised his family in the area. Getting his start in the early 1970s, he crossed paths with several of the designers who have contributed to the grounds here at Marin Art & Garden Center. He worked on a house in Sausalito that was designed by Gardner Dailey, who designed The Studio here; while working on another project, Ken also met Thomas Church, the first landscape designer for the MAGC grounds.
Those connections are part of what drew Ken to the job here. Working at the Marin Art & Garden Center
seems to bring a new challenge every day and Ken brings a wealth of experience to help us patch any leaks and mend all fences. With their long legacy, our buildings often have issues that don’t lend themselves to an off-the-shelf solution, so Ken’s gift of improvisation has served us extremely well. He’s also a skilled woodworker: if you’ve been in our main office, you can’t have missed the imposing front desk, which he built by hand.
Ken’s current project is a major one, the renovation of the Laurel House building in preparation for its reinvention as a new shop. Under direction from our Board member Jessica Fairchild, a local architect who specializes in historic projects, Ken has been tearing
back the later additions to this space to open it up and ready it for a sparkling fresh design. He says, “it’s not one of the historic buildings here, it was a private residence before, but it has a lot of charm. It was a nice surprise to find decent hardwood under the old flooring, and the Redwood Room is something special.”
Keep an eye out for Ken, often behind the wheel of the garden cart he has dubbed The Beast, honking the horn and heading off to his next project around the grounds.