The Southern Utah Museum of Art (SUMA) is part of the $39.1m, Beverley Taylor Sorenson Center for the Arts campus that includes visual and performing arts, live theatre, and arts education on the Southern Utah University campus in Cedar City, UT. The 5.5-acre master planned complex links downtown Cedar City with the Southern Utah University Campus.
The 28,000 sq ft Museum of Art anchors the SW corner of the arts centre hosting exhibitions from around the world and is home to a special collection of the work by Utah artist, Jim Jones. SUMA also regularly exhibit work of Southern Utah University’s Art and Design students and faculty, and provide a venue for displaying regional artists and juried shows.
Inspired by the dramatic sandstone formations at nearby Bryce Canyon and Mt. Zion National Park, the buildings main architectural feature is the canyon-like roof that covers the entire building as well as an additional 6000 sq ft of exterior under roof event space.
While this porch blurs the boundaries between the inside and outside, it serves an important social purpose – to reflect, engage, and promote the exchange of ideas. The 120 ft cantilevered roof to the west creates a covered exterior social space while protecting the entire west facing glass façade from direct solar gain and glare. This unfettered movement from inside to outside cultivates an atmosphere of leisure while simultaneously providing shade to protect the art inside and still allowing for spectacular views of the surrounding mountains.
The roof protects an expansive exterior space from the environment, but is also designed to collect snowmelt and stormwater runoff. It pitches and bends in two directions into canyon like form directing water to openings at each end of the building where the stormwater and snow melt can be seen from the street running off the roof and down the building façade, then disappearing into concealed wells at base of the structure where it is collected and re-charge back into the aquifer.
The museum program includes a student-centered experiential learning environment that collects, preserves and exhibits the visual arts of southern Utah and surrounding Colorado Plateau. The Museum’s exhibitions and educational programs expand the collecting focus by connecting regional art, culture and interests with the larger world. Students and Faculty in the Art and Design Department and the MFA program of the College of Performing and Visual Arts will use SUMA to learn museum management and best practices for preservation and collection.
The complex also features sculpture gardens, parks and exterior spaces for live performance and public use. The park-like setting incorporates native planting and is designed as outdoor rooms to accommodate uses ranging from intimate activities such as relaxing on a bench to gatherings of up to 300 people for impromptu live performances.
THE CLIENT MATTERS
Design is the balance of art & science as well as business & personality. Very few times in the design world does A+B=C, it’s just not that easy, but that’s what motivates us as designers. We want the design to capture the client’s grandest vision and have them literally say “Wow” when they see our work for the first time. The client needs to be excited about their project. Without that excitement, the structures have no life and therefore become stagnant. That is why we believe the client gets a say in the design process.
The design process for SUMA lasted more than four years. Dozens of community workshops and public events were conducted with faculty, staff, user groups, administrators, community groups and city officials to obtain input before and during the design process. By engaging the client and community early in the design process, they were able to spot problems and identify issues related to their specific community and project allowing them to learn about the design as they go, and develop ideas that may not have occurred to them because they spent much time with the design team. This dialog gave the client a greater sense of ownership, shifting them from being a critic of the design to an advocate.
In addition, more that five physical models of potential designs were put on public display to solicit comment and input. During the process, the design team modified their concepts to incorporate important public concerns and comments. At periodic intervals, presentations were also open to the public, recapping past meetings and decisions made. The design team assimilated the client’s and the public concerns about the project and fused those ideas with practical issues such as the budget, constructability and durability, maintenance and other issues. By collaborating with them on the design, two important goals were achieved. It gave the client and community a sense of control, and educated them about the design process. This allayed their fears about the project because the process was no longer unknown to them.
As a result of this very transparent process the project saw little delay and opened for the long planned, but very aggressive schedule for the re-opening in time for the live performance season and start of the academic year.
SUSTAINABLE DESIGN INTENT AND INNOVATION
As one of the community’s greatest cultural assets, SUMA plays a unique role to establish and promote a culture of sustainability. In their role as a place of authority and keepers of culture, it’s programs and design represents a model to learn more about ourselves, teach the methods of preserving our planet, our cultural resources. As a trusted part of the university and education system it is able to address the economic, cultural, and social dimensions of sustainability. They achieve this by engaging the public with interactive exhibits and by publicizing their own green efforts. The goal, stated or unstated, is to educate patrons about the effect they have on their environment, the ecological, economic, and cultural risks taken when they ignore their impact on the world, and introduce ways that they can reduce their carbon footprint. Thus, SUMA achieves civic engagement and social responsibility through teaching.
The building distinguishes itself from most conventionally developed projects in that it incorporates energy efficient measures that exceed standard practice, optimize building performance, and ensure reduced energy use during all phases of construction and occupancy. The planning and design of the building emerged from close consideration and employment of passive design strategies. These strategies include: locating and orienting the building to control solar cooling loads; shaping and orienting the building for exposure to prevailing winds; shaping the building to induce buoyancy for natural ventilation; designing windows to maximize day lighting; shading south facing windows and protecting west-facing glazing; utilizing low flow fixtures and storm water management; shaping and planning the interior to enhance daylight and natural air flow distribution. The building is shaped to provide shading and uses light-colored exterior walls and cool roof to reduce heat gain. These passive strategies alone make this building more than 30% more efficient than a conventionally designed similar structure.
The building is located within walking distance to downtown and the University campus and many needs and services and scores a 59 on walkscore.com. This is considered on the high end of somewhat walkable. Considering the average walkscore in Cedar City is 28 and the region even lower, SUMA stands as a model for pedestrian development in the area.
Museums serve two separate indoor climate needs: (1) maintaining optimal conditions for artifact and artwork preservation, and (2) providing a comfortable and healthy environment for visitors and staff. The main characteristics of museums that uniquely define their energy use are high-ceiling gallery spaces, often complex lighting needs, and intermittent occupancy levels. Each of these can contribute to increased energy consumption. More than 75% of museum energy use is consumed by space heating and cooling, ventilation, and lighting.
Energy efficiency played a huge role in the building's design, which includes the use of a ‘trigeneration’ system to create heat, electricity and cooling in one integrated process as a way of reducing carbon emissions. In order to offset the typically high energy demand of museums, SUMA incorporates a combination of radiant heating and cooling and a low volume air supply at floor level which creates a highly efficient mechanical system that provides cooling and heating only when and where needed. This unique system effectively acts as a heat pump to move heat (and cool) from one part of the building to another. It includes programmable thermostats automatically adjust temperature to preset levels, demand control ventilation for spaces with variable occupancy, which adjusts ventilation rates based on occupancy. Sensors are used to determine occupancy by measuring the concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the return airstream—the more people there are in the area. As a result, heating and cooling loads are reduced by nearly 45%.
Museums also face a unique challenge when it comes to lighting: they must illuminate art objects for public view while conserving them for posterity. SUMA utilizes 100% high efficiency LED lighting. In addition, temporary/moveable wall displays contain their own lighting systems so lighting is used only when and where necessary, further reducing demand. Timers and motion sensors are use throughout both inside and out.
Commissioning to check and tune building systems to ensure that they’re operating appropriately and efficiently yielded an average energy-use reductions of 16%. The result is a careful balance of passive solar design and mechanical comfort systems.