Brooks + Scarpa is not just a talented architecture firm - it seems they're also magicians capable of procuring clouds out of thin air, as they've shown in their plans to renovate the Kimball Art Center in Park City, UT. Encased in translucent honeycomb paneling, the Kimball Cloud is a light and bright space that makes use of solar passive design, heat exchange, and natural ventilation to provide energy-efficient climate control. The renovation of the arts and culture center is an opportunity for Park City to make a name for itself in the international art world, and Brooks + Scarpa's proposal could easily catapult it into the stratosphere.
Yesterday we explored BIG’s twisting timber tower for Park City’s Kimball Art Center, and today we’ll check out what Brooks + Scarpa has up its sleeve. The inspiration for the Kimball Cloud came directly from the many “blue bird” days of clear blue skies that Park City experiences. Brooks + Scarpa decided to remind us of our often sunny skies by introducing a new cloud into the urban landscape. The bright tower set beside the existing historic structure of the arts center is a beacon that can been seen and experienced from almost every vantage point in town. Daylight here is one of the driving strategies and the translucent panels of the cloud tower filter light into the space and down through each level to create an open and inviting space.
Existing facilities of the Kimball will be renovated and upgraded in accordance with the programmatic plan adding necessary office, storage and classroom space. The historic building’s roof will be turned into a large outdoor venue and seating and the side of the cloud becomes a movie screen to project the latest films from Sundance or other feature presentations. The cloud then will house new gallery and exhibition spaces, a kitchen and restaurant and will be topped off with an outdoor terrace and garden.
The cloud is wrapped in a glass curtain wall with exterior accordion-like translucent panels. Structural supports hold these honeycomb panels in place according to a optimized design for sunlight and shading. The entire structure has been designed to optimize the winter sun and make the most out of its daylight. During the winter, these honeycomb tubes act as greenhouses to heat up the air, which is then captured for use inside the building. In the summer, the panels act as a barrier to protect from the sun and the heated air is naturally ventilated up and out keeping the interior cool.
As for energy efficiency, mechanical systems have been selected to work in conjunction with the passive heating and cooling mechanisms of the exterior facade. A geothermal ground source heat exchanger works in conjunction with a heat pump to provide additional heating and cooling as needed. Daylighting through the facade also plays a major role to help reduce the need for artificial lighting. Natural ventilation helps move fresh air in and around the building. Evacuated solar thermal tubes situated on the south side of the building will provide hot water along with radiant heat to provide snow melt for side walks and the public plaza on the southeast corner.
Brooks + Scarpa has become a recognized name here at Inhabitat and they are well known for their public projects as well as their social and affordable housing. Their sensitive outlook and community outreach will certainly play well into the character and community of Park City*. Their design for the Kimball Cloud is at once both innovative and exciting in that it will give a well-recognized building facade to the existing historic structure. The cloud itself is appealing and floods the space with daylight, which makes it seem very welcoming. Compared to BIG’s tower, Brooks + Scarpa’s tower is almost an antithesis, but provides very similar functions.
As far as the rest of the design, I would have liked to see more inclusion of nature, green and vegetation especially on top of the roof where the outdoor seating will go. This rooftop plan seems bare and could have used a landscape architect’s input. As far as sustainability, the facade, again, is innovative and the natural and passive features could be excellent, although I am slightly disappointed in their lack of more solar power. Utah has a great solar resource and to not take advantage of it is throwing money down the drain. Another point of possible contention is the cloud at night – in renderings it shows the tower glows, but as a town we actually have a night lighting ordinance and this will likely not meet it as it will be too bright. While it is a beautiful structure and infuses the space with an abundance of light and openness, I foresee issues with the design and getting the necessary approval.
Images ©Brooks + Scarpa 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.