Ehrlich Architects design for The Contemporary Arts Center in Irvine has sound environmental principles at its core
The University of California, Irvine, Contemporary Arts Center, designed by Ehrlich Architects is inherently energy efficient and the project has received LEED Platinum certification. The bold strategy places the air conditioned gallery and theatre at the building’s core, wrapped by smaller non-air conditioned spaces. Naturally ventilated spaces make up most of the buildings exterior. These rooms and corridors are wrapped around spaces that require high levels of environmental control, typically sound or light, but also in the case of the art gallery temperature and humidity as well.
The top floor consists entirely of artists’ studios that are all also naturally ventilated. These studios open onto outdoor terraces that double as extended work areas. Built into a sloping site with its lowest of the five levels daylighting only to the west, the new UCI Arts Building is clad in straightforward materials such as brick veneer, concrete masonry and glass, which reference the materials that make up much of the surrounding campus.
The three-dimensional interlocking of the functional spaces aids the vertical continuity of the building and is expressed on the outside by the layering of the materials, particularly on the west façade. The main stair and elevator tower anchors the northwest corner of the building as it aids in defining the entry courtyard and announcing the building entrance.
The building is designed to actively engage the environment of the UCI Arts Village. Balconies, terraces, open walkways and a colonnade invite visual and physical interaction between the building, its occupants and the surrounding community. The Contemporary Arts Center’s building design underscores the interdisciplinary approach of the School of the Arts. The main stairs and elevator open off the Entrance Lobby, reinforcing the clarity of the building’s organization and its ease of use. The composition of four floors over a lower level is plainly understood from the approach to the building:
Base: Entrance canopy, Lobby wall and brick First Floor
Middle: Floors 2 and 3 expressed by the patterned glass window-wall with operable windows
Top: Set-back artists’ studios, viewing terraces and cantilevered roof generous connecting corridors make places of informal encounters.
The Architect’s inclusive design strives to add meaning to ordinary interactions. The building speaks about connection even as its distinct areas house decidedly different functions.
The WAN Performing Spaces Award 2016 is open to enter until 29 February.
[From the Architects]