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Studio Gang's Arkansas Arts Center breaks ground in Little Rock
United States Architecture News - Oct 2, 2019 - 16:33 3248 views
US architecture firm Studio Gang's Arkansas Arts Center, designed in collaboration with landscape architecture studio SCAPE, has broken ground in Little Rock, Arkansas. The Arkansas Arts Center transforms its former facility by creating a vibrant space for social interaction, education, and appreciation for the arts.
The Arkansas Arts Center (AAC) held a ground-breaking ceremony yesterday with the participation of Jeanne Gang, founder and principal of Studio Gang and Kate Off and SCAPE. Studio Gang's design comprises a pleated, thin-plate structure signaling a strong and reenergized visual identity of the center.
Working from the inside out, the design—which includes both new construction and renovations—clarifies the organization of the building’s interior while also extending the AAC’s presence into historic MacArthur Park, opening the Center to the city of Little Rock and beckoning the public within.
Studio Gang' added the new eight architectural additions resulting in a motley collection of fortress-like spaces that lack a holistic architectural identity, clear visitor circulation, and visibility to the city and the park of which the Center is a part.
Based on inefficient operational adjacencies, the AAC’s three impressive programs—a renowned collection of works on paper, the Museum School, and the Children’s Theatre—are disconnected from each other and their surroundings, making them difficult for visitors to locate and experience.
"The studio conceived as a stem that blossoms to the north and south and anchored by major new visitor amenities, the design mediates between the Center’s existing architecture to define a new public gallery and gathering space that provides an unprecedented axis of connectivity linking the AAC’s disparate programs and also serves as a focal point for extensive renovations that help the Center meet its growing visitor needs," said Studio Gang in its project description.
Studio Gang also renewed the building's 1937 facade and the excavation of the existing building allows for visual clarity and transparency and reveals expanded spaces for performance, exhibition, and art making.
By implementing extensive renovations, the new version of the building transforms the museum, adding new dedicated programs that demonstrate best practices for art exhibition, conservation, and research.
Major new amenities anchor the architecture at both the north and south entrances. At the north end, a new Cultural Living Room acts as a flexible community space for gathering, respite, and contemplation as well as special events.
To the south, an outdoor dining pavilion replaces the existing asphalt parking lot, opening the building to the park for the first time. Developed with SCAPE, the design reinforces the AAC’s ambition to become a true museum in a park, adding more than 2,200 linear feet of new paths and trails and 250 new trees, which will merge over time with the existing canopy to form a parkland forest, while the architecture’s pleats collect stormwater to feed new gardens and native perennial meadows.
Altogether the design embodies the AAC’s commitment to its community and its environs, strengthening its cultural and educational offerings and connecting visitors to each other, art, nature, and the city.
The building is expected to be completed in 2022.
All images courtesy of Studio Gang and SCAPE