Surrounded by the oldest elements of campus, i.e. 200 trees, the building proposal shaped in the form of a pavilion houses the function with an aim to creative energy involved in teaching and making art. Borrowing cues from the trees as a mark of respect, the building sits in the pivotal point of the campus, which sets as a hub for students to collaborate on different art projects.

'Winter visual arts building' at Franklin & Marshall College opened by Steven Holl architects - Sheet1
Exterior View of the Building ©www.archdaily.com

The building design has a lightweight structure that juxtaposes the traditional exposed brick architecture of the rest of the campus. Following the old central axis of the campus, a gradual exterior ramp shifts the users to the second level of the building constructed within the trees. The ground level of the building is made porous, which acts as a shortcut to connect the other structures of the campus and makes the facility more approachable.

'Winter visual arts building' at Franklin & Marshall College opened by Steven Holl architects - Sheet2
Interior View ©www.archdaily.com
'Winter visual arts building' at Franklin & Marshall College opened by Steven Holl architects - Sheet3
Upper Level ©www.archdaily.com

To make the building more ‘happening’, the ground level fits a forum and a suite of galleries which invites the surrounding community to participate in the art and events of the college. Having the elements such as skylights and double volumes, the functions in the buildings are separated in with digital labs in the below level, massive sculptures in the ground level which is in sync with the open-air sculpture yard.

The first level of the building is for the common gathering spaces which are for drawing, printmaking, and cinema, which helps to foster more meaningful interactions. As the exterior skin of the building is translucent, the studios receive seamless daylight throughout. Experimenting with the volumes, the faculty studios and art history seminar rooms are set on a mezzanine overlooking the teaching studios.

'Winter visual arts building' at Franklin & Marshall College opened by Steven Holl architects - Sheet4
View of Building edge ©www.archdaily.com

As a mark of respect to the oldest elements of the campus, i.e. the trees, the design ideation involved to preserve the site’s trees, hence, the building form involved curved geometry, because of this, the indigenous plant life results in minimum maintenance and disturbance to the existing ecology, exploring more on the structure of the building, the lightweight building footprint settles on 2-floor concrete rectangles which creates dramatic cantilevers with arced geometry. To make the on-site project more workable, the architects used 3D modelling and constructed documents with the team to simplify this curved geometric construction on the site.

The building is inaugurated and is functioning well with the students of the campus. In this pandemic, the project has the flexibility to adhere to the social distancing norms with generous social and circulation spaces—the building functions with the abundant daylight and natural ventilation with enabling one-flow circulation throughout.

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Jaival Mehta, being a third-year architecture student, is always keen to read and explode the theme of subject matter. If he had the time and stamina to do so, he would cycle around the world, with a pen, camera and a notebook. He is a literature and design enthusiast and his favourite word is ‘why’.

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