On the historic campus of Franklin & Marshall College, the new Winter Visual Arts Building takes shape as a raised pavilion formed by the site’s large old growth trees, the oldest elements of the campus all of which were preserved. The building’s spaces evoke the creative energy involved in teaching and making art. It is designed to become a new campus destination for all students. This building activates the southern end of the campus and creates a destination coming from the north path that runs through the entire campus.
Enduring and Inclusive Teaching and Public Space
The Winter Visual Arts Building is the center of Creative Life on campus. The universal language of art enabled by the building’s spaces brings together students from diverse cultures to collaborate on arts projects. The program consists of the curriculum for the Art / Art History Department. At the core is a series of studios- drawing, design, printmaking, painting, woodworking, sculpture, and film/digital photo lab where the classes take place. The main studio programs are efficiently organized around a ‘Commons’ gathering space for students which doubles as an informal presentation space. There is also a gathering forum space on the ground level adjacent to the two-room gallery that is giving the campus a new space to display not only student work but also ongoing exhibitions. In addition, Faculty Studios are set on a Mezzanine overlooking the teaching studios utilizing the building’s volume while allowing partially double-height studios of inspiring space.
Practical and Innovative
All studios receive natural light through the translucent façade and have an operable viewing window. This project utilizes a two layer U-plank system. Rather than the traditional interlocking of structural U shaped glass, the façade is composed of two U-Plank extrusions in which the cavity between them is filled with Okalux translucent insulation. This creates luminous facade that allows light into the studio spaces and achieves excellent thermal performance. The translucent facade reduces the electrical usage in the building and offers daylight into the working spaces. This along with the radiant flooring for heating and cooling and the operable windows and skylights creates a building equipped to maximize thermal performance and occupant comfort.
Constructible, Sustainable and Economical
The concept of a two story “box kite” is exemplified by the building: Cast in place concrete walls on ground level anchor the floating kite with the white stucco and translucent channel glass volume above that floats within the trees. The trusses are the kite structure that allow for the double height studio spaces. The concrete walls on the ground level hold up steel trusses, allowing openness to Buchanan park behind the building. Ground level glass is all transparent to gain that connection to the park while the studios float above with views to the park through the operable windows and mezzanine balcony.
SHA used 3D modelling to develop and coordinate the construction documents with the team, allowing contractors to build the complex geometry efficiently and precisely. The entire roof structure is exposed and the steel tubes are rolled at one radius and then tilted in place to create the curved roof geometry. The tongue and groove wood planks that rest on the bent tubes create a billowing ceiling. They are simply fastened to the top of the bent steel and, given the tolerance of wood, they create this soft curved ceiling for an inspiring learning space.
Architect: Steven Holl Architects
Client: Franklin & Marshall College
Principal design architect: Steven Holl
Partner in charge: Chris McVoy Project architect and senior associate: Garrick Ambrose
Assistant project architect: Carolina Cohen Freue
Project team: Dominik Sigg, Marcus Carter, Elise Riley, Michael Haddy and Hannah LaSota
Project manager: Thomas Murray of Casali Group and Sheldon Wenger of Franklin and Marshall College
Structural engineers: Silman Associates
MEP engineers: ICOR Associates
Civil engineers: David Miller Associates
Climate engineer: Transsolar
Landscape architects: Hollander DesignFacade consultants: Knippers Helbig Advanced Engineering
Lighting consultants: L’Observatoire International
Acoustical consultants: Harvey Marshall Berling Associates
Pool consultants: Aqua Design International
Cover Image: The Winter Visual Arts Building by Steven Holl Architects at Franklin & Marshall College at dusk. (Courtesy Iwan Baan)
Article courtesy of Steven Holl Architects