“The proposed complex will be a new public gateway to the campus, adjacent to transportation and parking. It will serve several major functions: it will house facilities to instruct students in traditional and exciting new disciplines of the arts: contain a visual research center, studios, study centers and visual laboratories to enable exploration of and instruction in cutting edge visual technologies and the digital arts; and house the first university art museum in Colorado.”
“A Program Plan,” July 2005
The project is sited at a key nexus of student activity and public presence, with the University’s historic quadrangle and central library to the north; the student center, history museum and outdoor theater to the west; residence halls, music facilities and the school of environmental design to the east; and a campus parking structure and major city avenue to the south.
Within this dense matrix of existing and historic buildings, the new Visual Arts Complex has been organized into two volumes, linked below grade and by a bridge at the third floor. These volumes shape two new campus spaces: the “Fine Arts Green” to the south, and the “Art Walk” linking this new green to the major pedestrian circulation along the northern edge of the site. The bridged portal between the two building volumes creates a literal gateway between the north and south campus spaces.
The program is strategically disposed into the two volumes to maximize structural and mechanical system efficiencies as well as fulfill desired program adjacencies. In the four-story west volume are grouped the “places for making art” instructional, faculty, and graduate student studios in ceramics, sculpture, painting and drawing, and media arts with demanding height, acoustical, structural and environmental requirements. The three-story east volume, attached to and sharing the service core of the ATLAS building (Alliance for Technology, Learning & Society) contains the “places for studying art”: the 21,000 nsf Museum, Art History facilities, and the 200-seat Lecture Hall, with requirements for column-free spaces and exacting tolerances for acoustical, temperature and humidity levels.
The project features raw and durable interior finishes appropriate for studio and frequently changing museum gallery conditions The exterior interprets the original historic campus volumetrics of Charles Z. Klauder and maintains the campus palette of “Tuscan Vernacular” sandstone and red tile roofs, as required by the Campus Design Standards and the Design Review Board.