Studio Art Hall, Pomona College

Education

Studio Art Hall, wHY Architecture
Laure Joliet
 

At the heart of Pomona College’s campus in southern California, the village-like nature of the Studio Art Hall mixes different disciplines throughout the artistic process, creating a collaborative atmosphere in which to explore new ideas, materials, and media.

Cross-pollination of ideas cannot occur in walled-off art studios. The Studio Art Hall’s concept and design reflects Pomona College’s ethos of nurturing innovation and culturally-minded graduates who either stay in the arts or venture into science, technology or business.
— Kulapat Yantrasat, founder of wHY Architecture

From the project’s conception, programming sessions with Art Program faculty and students uncovered a desire for mixing and exposure among the different disciplines during the art-making process.

To address this, wHY created semi-public, collaborative ‘Grey Spaces’ for exploring and exchanging ideas in a more informal way, and gave them the same importance as formal studio spaces.

By arranging major program elements around a central courtyard — part of a prominent diagonal path through campus — the new building encourages collaboration among art majors as well as non-art majors and the general public. The individual studio spaces are stacked with strategic areas of transparency, creating visual connections across open spaces.

Covering and bringing the entire structure is an arching steel and wood roof that echoes the rise and fall of the nearby mountain range, and draws parallels to the historic bowstring-trussed warehouses that now shelter art galleries and studios throughout Los Angeles. Every studio space not only has views of the lush, natural surroundings of the arroyo, but also has the capacity to expand its working environment into the open air or natural surroundings.

With Southern California’s extreme sensitivity to water and energy consumption, the project is geared toward a high level of sustainability. Natural ventilation in every space, combined with deep overhangs, enables year-round use through shaded spaces and cool breezes. Extensive use of perimeter clerestory glazing throughout the facility, and strategic placement of program elements, allow the building to nearly eliminate the need for artificial lighting outside of evening hours. Concrete walls keep interior spaces cool during the day and radiate to warm the interior at night. Storm-water retention basins for water collection are implemented in the design without sacrificing studio spaces.