This vibrant proposal for the Kimball Art Center renovation comes from Phoenix-based Will Bruder + Partners. In their submission, the architects offer up a design that is both colorful and translucent. Bruder proposes to tie in the renovation of the historic Kimball Garage with a bright and shiny new exhibition space banded by a series of black and colored vertical strips. The center is topped with a new green roof and outdoor plaza along with vertical axis wind turbines and a photovoltaic system. Initial inspiration came from some of the original mining buildings in Park City, but the end result is very urban and hip, with art, sculptural and architectural influences.
Will Bruder + Partners are currently competing against BIG, Brooks + Scarpa, Sparano + Mooney Architecture, and Tod Williams and Billie Tsien Architects to win the award to design the Kimball Art Center Transformation. This project includes the renovation of the historic center plus an expansion to create additional gallery, event, and education space. Bruder’s plan seeks to reinvent the Kimball away from its small town status into an exciting, urban and hip space. Drawing on local architectural influences as well as concepts from international artists and architects, the new KAC would be filled with modern designs and a 3 dimensional Möbius strip that defines the circulation from the inside to the outside.
The lower basement floor would feature a 165-seat screening room, which can be used for films, lectures and the Sundance Film Festival. Additionally, the lower floor would also house a street-level accessed restaurant and art studios and workshop space. The main floor houses administration offices, a lobby, gift shop and more studio space. The upper level provides access to the rooftop garden and outdoor venue and this level houses the main gallery and exhibition space.
As for sustainability, Will Bruder’s plan is aiming high for LEED Platinum certification and features a number of strategies to achieve energy efficiency and sustainability. Beyond the renovation and reuse of the existing facilities, high performance mechanical systems, natural ventilation and daylighting will all work to reduce energy use. A large sky well starting from the rooftop will pull light down into all three levels. The exterior slatted cladding on the new space filters light into the gallery and offers glimpses out into the town. The rooftop deck will be planted with vegetation to help infiltration rain and snow. Finally energy for the building will be generated with vertical axis wind turbines and photovoltaics.
Will Bruder pays homage to a number of artists in his design. The wind turbine tower located over the translucent elevator shaft features colored panels similar to Olafur Oliasson’s Rainbow Panorama. The elevator or “artvator” references James Turrell’s light installations. The skywell references Dan Graham and Robert Irwin.
Will Bruder’s design is the least organic looking and yet is possibly the most sustainable of the 5 options. The concept itself is very cosmopolitan, artsy and has a quality more like a flashy new movie theater than a community art center. And yet, the design is intriguing in that it brings a level of edginess virtually non-existent to Park City.* The colorful exterior border is exciting and the new playfully accents the historic structure. Transparency and daylight play strong rolls in the design and the use of renewable energy is both artistic and recognizable to the general public. Layout wise, the plan seems thoughtful and cohesive with enough flexible space to meet the demands of the center.
This proposal is exciting without being over the top or too extravagant. At the same time, Bruder’s plan pays little regard for the historic roots of the city or the surrounding architecture. The fear here is that the design will fall out of fashion as opposed to a design that fits in more with the heritage of the old town. We must ask ourselves if 20 years from now the design will be outdated? Another Although minor, another critique is the arrangement of the outdoor deck and placement of the movie screen on the west side which blocks views and sunlight. There are many concepts within this proposal that are beautifully conceived, but overall might date the town in the future.
Images © Will Bruder + Partner courtesy of the Kimball Art Center and ©Bridgette Meinhold
* Bridgette Meinhold calls Park City, UT home and is intimately involved in the activities of the Kimball Art Center. She has watched the design competition closely since it first began and will continue to provide in-depth, first hand info on the project as it evolves.