Heimbold Visual Arts Center, New York, Manhattan, Interior, Design, Project, USA

Monika A. and Charles A. Heimbold Jr. Visual Arts Center

Sarah Lawrence College – design by Polshek Partnership Architects

26 Aug 2008

Heimbold Visual Arts Center

Sarah Lawrence College, Monika A. and Charles A. Heimbold Jr. Visual Arts Center

Bronxville, New York, USA
Design: Polshek Partnership Architects (now ennead architects)

Heimbold Visual Arts Center
photo © Steven Turner

The new Heimbold Center establishes a dynamic interdisciplinary environment for the visual arts at Sarah Lawrence College, a progressive liberal arts institution, whose bucolic campus is located about 15 miles north of Manhattan.

From the outset, the College’s identified goals for the building informed the conceptual strategy environmentally, spatially, systemically and materially. The visual arts have historically occupied an important place in the College’s progressive liberal arts curriculum. However, over time the various disciplines in the program were dispersed across the campus in inadequate spaces. The College’s dual objectives of strengthening the arts curriculum and forging a new interdisciplinary direction in the arts could be achieved only through the creation of a truly unified environment that would inspire creativity, foster an intensive dialogue between students and faculty, and break down barriers between disciplines. In addition, the College sought a leadership role in sustainable design.

Sarah Lawrence’s campus is characterized by undulating topography, dramatic rock outcroppings and dense foliage. The Heimbold Center occupies a prominent site adjacent to the President’s house, a two-story, fieldstone structure built in 1921. The building is integrated into the topography of the existing hilltop: on the south a stepped grass-covered rooftop reduces the overall impact of the building on the natural environment. The resulting landscaped space is a new outdoor public focal point for the campus.

Monika A. and Charles A. Heimbold Jr. Visual Arts Center Sarah Lawrence College Building Sarah Lawrence College Sarah Lawrence College Bronxville
photograph © Aislinn Weidele/Polshek Partnership Architects

To promote engagement with the building encourage movement through it and ultimately to afford all students visual access to the creative process, the design incorporates pre-existing patterns of pedestrian movement between classroom facilities on the historic campus and dormitories to its west. Moreover, as the building emerges from the ground plane and its stone base, glass is employed as the primary material, affording visual transparency and maximizing daylighting within. Physical permeability is achieved by means of glass garage doors, which open to the landscaped terrace from studios, critique spaces and a café. The conceptual goal of blurring the distinction between the landscape and the building is achieved.

On the interior, teaching and exhibit spaces are integrated into the network of circulation and movement. While the studio spaces for painting, drawing, sculpture, printmaking, photography, film/new media, visual fundamentals, art history, and visual culture are specific to each discipline, production spaces are accessible to all students, and general critique spaces, seminar rooms and technology clusters are interspersed throughout the building. The integration of advanced technologies serves as an essential link between students, faculty and the arts community at the College and fosters an interdisciplinary process.

From the start, fundamental principles of sustainable design relating to siting, solar orientation, material selection, daylighting and mechanical systems informed the design process and were integrated into the overall conceptual design. Exemplary are a geothermal heat pump system, a recycled glazing system, which defines the painting studios’ northern exposure and a central sky-lit gallery, which forms a two-story lightfilled focal point for the building and unifies activities. Inspiration for the building’s primary materials – fieldstone, cedar, channel glass and zinc – was found in the campus’s rich landscape and its historic architecture. The use of stone from local quarries continues the College’s history of utilizing local fieldstone in the construction of its buildings, and contributed to LEED certification.

Sarah Lawrence College, Heimbold Visual Arts Center images / information from Polshek Partnership Architects 260808

Ennead Architects

Location:Sarah Lawrence College, New York

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Website: www.slc.edu/about/campus/academic-arts/Heimbold_Visual_Arts_Center.html