Brooks + Scarpa a Los Angeles based architecture firm has released their proposal for the roughly 22,000 square foot addition to the existing 12,000 square foot 1929 historic Kimball Art Center located in the heart of downtown Park City at the corner of Main Street and Heber Ave, Utah.
The design concept for the new Kimball Art Center is to perceptually bring the mesmerizing and seemingly endless deep blue Park City sky directly into the space of the city. Despite the time of year or weather conditions, the sky always seems to quickly return to its infinite and hypnotic clarity, with rarely a cloud in the sky. It provokes a kind of indelible wonder; a dreamlike state of mind that engages the viewer, heightens their sense of awareness, and brings a sense of vitality to the place. The Kimball “Cloud” delivers a new experience and expands art into the broader Park City community, creating a new social space for the 21st century.
The building’s facade creates a visual icon, a glowing beacon that can be seen and experienced from a distance and immediately adjacent. The upper floors are composed of a conventional glazing system that is covered by a rain screen made from a translucent honeycomb material. This translucent, faceted skin is not only aesthetic, but also plays a role in the building’s thermal performance. Below this envelope, the new ground level facade is constructed of very transparent glass and opens directly to the street, while delicately connecting and weaving into the heavy mass of the existing historic Kimball building. Spatially, the lower floor is absorbed into the adjacent existing building and the city, while the upper floors overhang the more transparent level below. The new ‘cloud’ building appears to levitate above the site, while the historic structure feels solid and grounded to the earth. This illusion enhances the buildings, giving them a collective strength that neither building could possess individually.
Interior spaces delicately knit together passive and active uses, allowing the community to view and/or participate in the artistic experience. Rather than simply displaying art for view, the new design reveals to the community the very process by which art is created. Every feature of the building is multivalent and rich with meaning—performing several roles for functional, formal and experiential effect.
At the corner of Main Street and Heber Ave, the creation of a large exterior court links directly to the 20-foot high metal-smithing, welding and glass studios that would use this court daily as their outdoor workspace. The façade between the exterior court and studio is visually clear, opening the Art Center to public view. Large sliding panel doors open and connect the exterior and interior together, so artist and students can use the court seamlessly from inside to out. This court, located midway between the existing Kimball ground floor and basement levels, is connected directly to the street, and allows most of the working studio spaces to be visually linked to the street corner. These spaces flow from the court deep into the building linking the new structure with the existing building. In this configuration, the existing basement is opened up and connected to Main Street along with the existing Kimball ground floor and the new structure. Creating this split-level design at the street level on Main Street and Heber Avenue, serves several other important purposes: it allows for great flexibility, affording the Art Center the ability to easily divide and use the ground level for a variety of purposes and functions, both large and small, while still remaining visually open and not feeling like separated smaller rooms.
The heart of the Art Center, the process by which art is made, is connected to the street corner. Passerby can see deep into the building, viewing people working throughout several studio spaces, the main exhibition space and the many other spaces that are visually linked together. Rather than simply displaying art to the community, the process itself is on display.
Excerpts from an Interview with Nan Noaker of the Park Record on Deember 21, 2011
Noaker: What one piece of public input did you receive about the Kimball project that most influenced your plan (if any)?
Scarpa: Visiting the Center had the most influential impact on our design. It was thrilling to see the energy at the center with so many kids and adults actively participating in the culture of art. I learned that Kimball Art Center was more about the process of making art, engaging the community in a wide variety of artistic experiences, and most importantly it is a extremely valuable community asset for the city. It became clear to me that our design should reflect the community and the process of making art rather than simply displaying it, and that the center should physically be very open to the street and community. In a sense the building should not only become a vibrant community place but part of the everyday life of the community. Rather than simply displaying art to the community, the process itself can be on display.
Noaker: What would you say to someone about your model just before it is revealed for the first time to prepare them for what they will see?
Scarpa: Park City has drawn millions of people from around the world to live, visit and play among its unique natural beauty and blend of old and new. One of the most incredible and mesmerizing natural features is the seemingly endless deep blue sky. Despite the time of year or weather conditions, the sky always seems to quickly return to its infinite and hypnotic clarity, with rarely a cloud in the sky. It provokes a kind of indelible wonder; a dreamlike state of mind that engages the viewer, heightens their sense of awareness, and brings a sense of vitality to the place. Our design concept for the new Kimball Art Center addition and renovation is to perceptually bring the uniqueness of the Park City sky directly into the space of the city, allowing the user to forge a deeper and more meaningful understanding of the fundamental, yet delicate relationships that exist between themselves, the natural world, its vital resources, and our collective cultures. “The Kimball Cloud” delivers a new experience and expands art into the broader Park City community, creating a new social space for the 21st century.
Noaker: What was the biggest challenge in coming up with a design for the site (i.e. historic guidelines? budget? climate?)
Scarpa: With over 9000 skiable acres, 64 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places and hosting many important cutting edge cultural events, Park City possesses a unique blend of small town charm with 21st century thinking. The biggest challenge in coming up with our design was how does our building visually represent those seemingly diametrically opposed ideas. How does a 21st century new building co-exist and compliment the historic Kimball Building and fit within the town context, while being representative of a forward thinking community and institution. Because of it’s proposed location at Main and Heber how does the new building become a gateway to the city while being a good neighbor? These were important and difficult questions that needed to be answered. Therefore, it was important for us to make the new addition very light and airy which would compliment the heavy mass of the existing historic building and allow the street life and community to seamlessly connect to the interior of the building. This illusion of heavy and lightness would also have the power to enhance both buildings, giving them a collective strength that neither building could possess individually. The new building also needed to be taller than the rest of the buildings around it but should complement the surrounds. We thought that if our proposed building could also float like a beautiful cloud over the site, it could help answer some of these difficult questions.
About Brooks + Scarpa Architects (http://www.brooksscarpa.com)
Over the past 10 years, Brooks + Scarpa has won 18 national AIA awards, including the 2010 Architecture Firm Award and four AIA COTE Top Ten Green Building Awards. The firm has also received more than 60 state and local AIA awards. In 2008, Pugh + Scarpa received a Lifetime Achievement Award from Interior Design.
About The Kimball Art Center (http://www.kimballartcenter.
The Kimball Art Center is the heart of Park City’s historic and vibrant arts community. Kimball is a non-profit center for the arts, committed to engaging individuals of all ages in diverse and inspiring experiences through education, exhibitions and events.
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