Red, is a colour that is often associated with a heightened sense of emotion, strength and power. At the same time, the colour has an ability to take a stance on proving a point in its surroundings. Ruby City is located in San Antonio, Texas which has set its goal to bridge the gap between contemporary art and the community. 

Linda Pace remembered as ‘the Artist’s Collector’ carefully collected and crafted a collage of art that elevated the utilitarian overview of daily life. With over 800 paintings, sculptures, installations and video work by contemporary artists around the world, this museum is a re-creation of a lucid dream experienced by Pace herself. Sir David Adjaye took the initiative to translate this dream into a reality that would provide an experiential platform to all the users. 

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Ruby City Contemporay art centre- Adjaye associates_©Dror Baldinger

Landscape and surroundings

Long before the Spanish expedition in 1691, San Antonio was colonized by the Payaya Indians (Native American tribe) who moved across the Southern Texas landscape finally settling along the upper San Antonio River Valley. Like the fate of any other tribe, it eventually dissolved as it failed to keep up with the conflict with the Apache tribe from the North and the Spaniards.

The current Landscape entails rows of houses with commercial stores sitting around the block. Amongst an urban setting with freeways, parks and settlements, lies a two-storey building right beside San Pedro Creek and Chris park. A striking yet humanized red exterior structure made of precast concrete fabricated in Mexico City. 

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Ruby City_©Linda Pace 

Structure

The first 10 feet is a smooth concrete polished finish and the rest of the top has a more rugged texture to it. In plan it projects like an angled diamond sitting beside the creek, defining its existence.

In circulation, the plan follows an ambulatory loop, with administration offices, pantry, loading/unloading area, reception and the jewel box (meeting room) is located on the ground floor. The first floor has 3 Galleries with displays of artworks and paintings adorning the internal volume of the space. 

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The front end of Ruby City rises to reveal the shaded entrance_©Adjaye associates

Just like an ebb and rise of a tide, a sequential flow has been maintained in the transition of spaces right from the entrance to the gallery, through the opening and staircases. As Pace mentioned in her description for the museum, she envisioned a fortress with many minarets, Adjaye gave her vision a physical form by ideating this concept in the entrance. The sloped cantilever at the entrance reflects like the exterior of a fortress. 

Although the style followed through by Adjaye leans towards contemporary style, there is an evident integration of Linda Pace’s foresight of the minarets in the double-height sky-lit areas, which one can relate to its verticality. The two levels of the space are connected by a series of two staircases. Placed at the junction of a corner, the long straight flight of stairs gives a feeling of endless continuity to the upper level. This takes the user through an eager sense of curiosity, as to what can be expected. This encourages the users to have an immersed experience in a space where artists have expressed themselves. 

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Ruby City Contemporay art centre- Adjaye associates_©Adjaye Associates

The three galleries placed adjacent to each other do not have a monotonous white backdrop, rather they have a theme that follows the artist’s expression. In the third gallery, there is an installation of Isaac Julien’s Stones Against Diamonds video, which will run for a course of 2 years. This not only makes the space lively but it also emphasizes the importance of the individuality of the artist.

The only difference between the vision and reality is the abundance of lighting given in the galleries. This not only contradicts Pace’s manifestation of the space but also re-invents the purpose of contemporary art, that is to freely express the realities of the world and depict them through art media. 

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Ruby City Contemporay art centre- Adjaye associates_©Adjaye assocates

Design Ideology

Linda Pace believed in the power of dreams and their translation through art. More importantly, she wanted the community to see and experience the impact of contemporary art on daily life. Ruby City also stands as a symbolic representation of how a jewel-like structure can become a vital social-force, and help society to grow and adapt to a new perspective. 

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Ruby City_©Linda Pace

Stepping stones for moving forward is by carrying forward the legacy of the past and shedding a new light on their practices and lifestyle. Pace recognized this and communicated this through her works. Her dreams would often be converted into sculptures and be placed around the museum. 

Near the museum there is also a 1-acre plot converted into Chris park, after her late son, with a studio beside it. Both Linda Pace and David Adjaye, collaborated on the artistic and structural front creating a real manifestation of a dream, full of opportunities.  

References

  1. ArchDaily. (2020). Ruby City Contemporary Art Center / Adjaye Associates. [online] Available at: https://www.archdaily.com/943804/ruby-city-contemporary-art-center-adjaye-associates.
  2. Arcgis.com. (2021). . [online] Available at: https://www.arcgis.com/apps/Cascade/index.html?appid=62ef79f9fee04e9b98fd9948264a6d0b.
  3. Dezeen. (2019). David Adjaye completes Ruby City art centre in Texas. [online] Available at: https://www.dezeen.com/2019/04/02/ruby-city-david-adjaye-art-centre-san-antonio-texas/
  4. Adjaye Associates. (n.d.). Ruby City. [online] Available at: https://www.adjaye.com/work/357
  5. Ruby City. (n.d.). Sir David Adjaye OBE. [online] Available at: https://www.rubycity.org/building/
  6. Architectural Digest India. (2019). David Adjaye’s design story in red offers a poetic quality to San Antonio’s Ruby City arts centre. [online] Available at: https://www.architecturaldigest.in/magazine-story/san-antonio-ruby-city-art-centre/
  7. The Architect’s Newspaper. (2019). David Adjaye’s Ruby City is an imposing monument to art in southern Texas. [online] Available at: https://www.archpaper.com/2019/10/david-adjaye-ruby-city-crit/
  8. Arcgis.com. (2021). . [online] Available at: https://www.arcgis.com/apps/Cascade/index.html?appid=62ef79f9fee04e9b98fd9948264a6d0b.
  9. Texas Monthly. (2019). San Antonio’s Ruby City Is a Literal Dream Come True. [online] Available at: https://www.texasmonthly.com/arts-entertainment/san-antonio-ruby-city-literal-dream-come-true/
  10. Google Maps. (n.d.). Google Maps. [online] Available at: https://www.google.com/maps/search/sanntonio+ruby+city/@29.4130758
  11. Trust, D.B. (n.d.). Ruby City. [online] Alamo Architects. Available at: https://www.alamoarchitects.com/our-projects/ruby-city/
Tanishay Tannizy
Author

A curious owl, who believes that collaboration drives innovation. Tanisha sees Architecture not as a single entity, rather a confluence of people, in their time and its lasting imprint left for future explorers to further dwell into. In her words, 'Expression is an act of acceptance, either to thyself or the world.'

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