School renovation & addition of new visual arts facility puts art & artists on display
The Sid W. Richardson Visual Arts Center is a new arts facility for Fort Worth Country Day School, a small college preparatory school in southwest Fort Worth. To accommodate the school’s growing art education department, the school decided to renovate and expand a former campus cafeteria into art studios and classrooms. The project was inspired by the use of natural light, the need to form strong connections with the campus and a desire to have art education on display.
Established in the early 1960’s as a small school, the existing cafeteria was one of the original two buildings on campus. The character of the original building was preserved in the renovation by working within the existing footprint and roofline. The lobby space is designed to be a connection between the past and the future, and incorporates the existing chimney as a found relic and focal point. Circulation from the lobby to the renovation can flow 360 degrees around this chimney, while glass walls, as well as a skylight running the full length of the lobby, create a transparent relationship between the old and the new. For the studios in the renovation, natural light was brought into the spaces by removing approximately 70% of the existing brick and CMU walls. Studios were orientated to best utilise the light with north and south façades of clear glass.
Immediately to the south of these studios, a hallway of clear glass was created by carving out space from the existing cafeteria. Protected from harsh southern sun by the existing building’s deep overhangs, this clear glass connector allows the renovation to be completely transparent from north to south. For the studios in the addition, natural light was brought into the spaces and magnified by sloping the roof from north to south, allowing the north elevation of each studio to open to 25’-0” of clear glass. Spaces were designed with glazing that introduces natural light from two directions, ensuring that consistent light was achieved throughout the space. Spaces are organised around massive masonry walls which solidify volumes and strengthen the transition of spaces from exterior to interior.
The burnished block matches the colour of the natural limestone used throughout the campus. The coursing pattern is designed to connect the horizontality of the existing building to the verticality of the addition. The brick - a blend made specifically for Country Day - and dark bronze metal panels consistent with the character of the campus were used in key areas for the addition. Art by its very nature needs to be displayed and observed by others to truly express the artistic intention. Art needs to be viewed, mulled over and discussed in order to be appreciated. In this sense, the display of art is often as important as the art itself. The project serves as a display of art education and fosters a discovery process among students.
Ends of walls are detailed with entrant glazed corners offering 180-degree views. The north walk was lowered to project the view from the classrooms to the landscape. Artists at work can view and gain inspiration from their exterior surroundings, while pedestrians on the walk below can gain inspiration by catching glimpses of the creative process within the studios. The entire building is designed to put the school’s art program on display as a source of pride and inspiration for all that attend the school.
Sid W Richardson Visual Arts Center Fort Worth, Texas 10,000 sq ft (5,100 sq ft addition / 4,900 sq ft renovation) Project Completion Date: August 2009