Located just 4 miles from the Pacific Coast, UC Irvine's new Contemporary Arts Center was built to be in sync with the sunny weather in Southern California. The building needs very little in the way of mechanical climate control and relies almost exclusively on solar passive design and natural ventilation. Culver City-based Ehrlich Architects came up with the design for the innovative, energy efficient building on the university's arts campus. The LEED-designed building contains a black box theater, an art gallery, art labs, recording studios, offices, classrooms and lots of studio space.
The Contemporary Arts Center is UC Irvine’s most recent addition to the Claire Trevor School of the Arts and includes many innovative educational spaces. Built into a slight slope, the building contains a block box theater and an art gallery at its center. Surrounding these two spaces are all the classrooms, labs, offices and studios spaces, all of which have access to daylight and breezes. The theater and the gallery are the only two spaces that need climate control and the rest rely on natural ventilation. To achieve this passive climate control, Ehrlich Architects and their team went through a controlled design process to provide the correct amount of shade, light, windows, air flow in each of the rooms. Occupants of the building were also educated on the proper way to make rooms cooler or warmer by opening windows. A ventilation shaft on the top of the building along with operable skylights allows hot air to vent up and out.
The building was clad in brick veneer, concrete masonry and glass to match the surrounding campus and were specially designed to allow the right amount of light inside. Sunny aspects feature metal vertical louvers that act as sun shades across hallways. The east and north sides enjoy a glass facade made up of clear, frosted and fritted panes that provide more even and glare-free light inside. A cool roofing material minimizes solar heat gain and skylights let in more natural light. The rooftop studios access to outdoor patio space and clerestory windows for more even light. Inside materials and finishes are all low VOC and carbon dioxide monitors ensure the proper air flow to the climate controlled areas. Outside, new landscaping will grow up to provide a shady public plaza and seating was created using recycled telephone poles. The project was designed to achieve LEED-Gold certification and is awaiting the results.
Images ©Lawrence Anderson/Esto