McGee Art Pavillion at the College of Ceramics in New York completed by Ikon.5
Oft times, buildings speak to us before they are made. Hence the expression ‘What does this building want to be?’ In designing an expansion of the School of Art and Design at the New York State College of Ceramics in Alfred, New York, Princeton, N.J., architect Ikon.5 took its cue from the School’s storied ceramics program and the region’s history as an important center of industrial design and glass making and created a modern pavilion that is an homage to a rich tradition of ‘making’.
The building’s façade, which is clad in unglazed terra cotta tubes that have been rotated and flipped, creating a rich pattern, gives the illusion that it is ‘custom-made’ when, point of fact, it was fabricated with ‘off the shelf’ baguettes. With a project budget of $5.5m for the 19,000 sq ft addition, this approach was creative and cost sensitive and resulted in a building of quality that speaks to art.
Connected to a Brutalist structure designed by Peter Blake and situated on a campus that is organized on a spine, which is a main pedestrian and vehicular thoroughfare, the building’s second storey overhang distinguishes it in the landscape while also providing welcome solar shading to the all-glass level below.
This storey, while wholly transparent, is flexible and can be completely shuttered. In its open mode, passers-by can peer into the glass container and witness the creative process at work while students and faculty make use of the abundant natural light provided. Large wood pivoting doors, incorporated on the interior side of the glass wall, can be positioned into place to completely close off the space to natural light, thus allowing it to serve other functions, such as new media studios.
Highly flexible and budget conscious the pavilion floats above the ground plane, establishing an iconic landmark on campus and a sculptural home for the storied arts school.