Decoding Design

BIG wins Kimball Art Center redesign competition by unanimous vote

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BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group is announced as the winner of the redesign competition for the Kimball Art Center in Park City, Utah.

The winners of the Kimball Art Center in Park City, Utah's redesign and renovation competition have been announced: BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group wowed the jury, the KAC board, who awarded the firm the victory in a unanimous decision.

SmartPlanet has been following the progress of this particular architectural contest throughout its many phases, and has featured a Q&A with KAC Executive Director, Robin Marrouche. Today, Marrouche updated us on the selection process and what lies ahead for the KAC.

The jury met on February 1 to review all the designs, and they spent a whole day going over each one. The following day, the firms each got an hour to present their projects and do a Q&A with the public, some of whom, according to Marrouche, stayed the entire day to weigh-in on the designs that would eventually be part of the community.

BIG-Bjarke Ingels' proposal featured a new KAC that is made of massive stacked timber reclaimed from train track piles from the Great Salt Lake, just a thirty minute drive from Park City, and one of the many green-centered features in the plan.

The interior of the new space features a spiral staircase, new spaces from programs, exhibition spaces, and a restaurant. A terrace opens up to look out on Park City's historic Main Street, home to the Sundance Film Festival and a stones throw from Park City Mountain Resort.

However, the most interesting part of the competition was that the architects had to work with the current Kimball Art Center building, the historic Kimball garage, which is landmarked, and cannot be altered.

For this space, BIG-Ingels proposed for it to be used as an educational hub with a rooftop sculpture garden. A local firm, Architectural Nexus, based in Salt Lake City, as well as other local companies to help with the engineering and construction.

The evening of February 2, John Warnock, the co-founder of Adobe, held a dinner and party for the architects, and the day after that, the jury went over each presentation and made a recommendation to the board that was unanimous. The board agreed with the jury, also unanimously.

Now, said Marrouche, the project has to go from the concept phase to the next stage, "where we take their initial concepts and get to work on tweaking programming ideas and features."

"The next step is to have meetings with the firm around honing in on some design features and entering into the conversation with the city, and taking the next step with the funders, now that we have the design."

And the obstacles? "Money to do what we want to do. Getting appropriate approvals from the city. But we have a great case to make."

BIG-Ingels was one of five finalists: Brooks + Scarpa Architects (Los Angeles, California), Sparano + Mooney Architecture (Salt Lake City, Utah), Will Bruder + Partners (Phoenix, Arizona), and Tod Willians Billie Tsien Architects (New York, New York.)

Bjarke Ingels, founder and partner at BIG-Ingels, said, "The raw charm of Park City and the Kimball Art Center is rooted in a culture of appropriating structure of past industry to accomodate spaces for cultural life and leisure. With our design for the new KAC, we seek to continue this tradition by using the construction technique of the old mines and the railroad trestles that have a marinated for decades in the Great Salt Lake to create raw spacious framework for the art and artists of Park City-- a traditional material and technique deployed to produce a highly contemporary expression."

To read more about the competition and the other designs, click here.

To read SmartPlanet's original Q&A with Robin Marrouche, click here.

For more information on BIG's design, click here.

Video of BIG's presentation below:

Images: Kimball Art Center

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Beth Carter

Contributing Editor

Beth Carter is a freelance journalist based in San Francisco. She has worked for Catalyst magazine, the New York Times Syndicate, BBC Travel and Wired. She holds degrees from the University of Oregon and New York University. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure