Bjarke Ingels loves to ski, so there’s no doubt he’s thrilled that his firm, BIG, just won first prize to design the renovation and expansion of the Kimball Art Center in Park City, UT. BIG’s winning design features a soaring, twisting, timber eco-tower that pays respect to the mining history of the Utah ski town. Using reclaimed trestlewood for the structure along with other sustainable strategies like solar power, rainwater collection, a high performing thermal envelope and daylighting, BIG’s tower is sure to make a huge statement. The Danish firm best be on the lookout for office space in Park City so they can get to work on the new and improved art center.
The Kimball Art Center serves as a local art museum and cultural center that offers art education and rotating exhibitions. Located in a historic gas station and garage on Main Street in Park City, the center has outgrown its existing facilities. In the fall of 2011, the KAC invited a long list of architecture firms to submit their qualifications and then selected 5 firms to come up with design proposals for the renovation and expansion. The KAC selected BIG, Brooks + Scarpa, Sparano + Mooney Architecture, Tod Williams and Billie Tsien Architects, and Will Bruder + Partners.
Over the fall and winter, the firms gave presentations to the community to introduce themselves and then submitted their design proposals and models, which sat on display for the public. Last Thursday, February 2nd, all 5 firms returned to give final presentations to the jury. The winner was announced just today, Friday, February 10th and now BIG will work with the KAC on the final design. Pending city approval and funding, work is expected to commence in the spring of 2013.
BIG’s design for the new KAC is largely a reference to the former Silver King Coalition Mine Building erected in 1901, which stood as the tallest building in Park City for 80 years until it burnt to the ground in 1982. Built out of reclaimed timbers, the twisting volume will be heavily insulated to form a tight envelope, and a spacious rooftop garden will be created for use as outdoor event space. Inside, the space will feature modern clean lines, ample daylighting and flexible mixed-use space for exhibitions, events, and film screenings. Although the jurors have not released their review or any notes on the designs, they were likely swayed by Mr. Ingels charming personality, his reference to Park City’s mining history as well as his use of materials and incorporation of sustainable strategies. No doubt, this will be a boon for the Kimball Art Center and a huge addition, literally, to the ski town.
Butch and Sundance must surely be spinning in their unmarked Bolivian graves at the sight of Park City, Utah, home of lovable outlaws and independent film makers, rolling out the red carpet to a handful of jet-set starchitects. If you were one of the millions of designers out there with a go-for-it attitude, a creative outlook and some serious time on your hands, you might have gotten fired up when The Kimball Art Center announced it’s plans for expanding. I sure did. After all, the Kimball sits at the center of historic Park City on an underdeveloped lot that’s crying out for something great to come along and transform the City. And you might have been just as dismayed as I was to find out that only five concepts would be considered in the invitation-only ‘competition’. To be fair, there are good reasons for this kind of approach, and the people in charge did an outstanding job of pulling the whole thing off. But do big names guarantee the best design in an era when, with a single keystroke, you can tap into the unplumbed depths of a world-wide pool of creativity and talent for free? Yes, I am getting a little carried away here, and I’d gladly admit to being a bad sport who doesn’t like losing...except I didn’t lose, because, along with every other juiced up, unknown designer on the planet, I was never in the running. However, I didn't let a little thing like not being invited, keep me from running alongside the limo. On my own dime, and in my own time, I too came up with a design for the new Kimball Art Center. All it cost me was four weeks, $1,000, and a broken heart, because, as usual, I fell in love with my own design. You can see it at : http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.2901294297751.2125115.1422240355&type=3&l=b541bfbcf0