Firstsite finally opened its great golden doors on September 25th – four years after originally planned. The final price tag came in at $44.3 million dollars – significantly more than originally quoted – after a series of engineering and structural problems delayed construction. Commissioned in 2003 via a Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)-led design competition, Rafael Viñoly’s vision has been criticized from the onset. Arch Record reports that Borough Councillor Paul Smith supports the project since he expects it to draw $3.2 million in annual revenues, but Parliament Member Bob Russell calls it an embarrassing “Golden Blunder.”
Still, we think that Viñoly should receive kudos for giving the project a light-ish footprint in order to preserve the surrounding archaeological treasures. Instead of creating a giant that requires deep footings (as well as a prohibitively expensive archaeological dig) he opted instead for a single multistory volume that receives plenty of natural light. Though the construction materials might have been eco-friendlier than copper and aluminum cladding, there’s a good reason that Rafael Viñoly was entrusted to create the gorgeous state-of-the-art arts and educational facility that has already brought little old Colchester out of the shadows.
+ Rafael Viñoly
Via Arch Record
images via Richard Bryant