BIG + Architectural Nexus win the competition for the Kimball Art Center

• February 14, 2012

BIG + Architectural Nexus + Dunn Associates + VBFA + Envision Engineering + Big D design the winning proposal for the renovation and expansion of Kimball Art Center in Park City, projected for completion by Mid-2015.

KIM Image by BIG 01 600x389 BIG + Architectural Nexus win the competition for the Kimball Art Center

Kimball Art Center, render courtesy BIG

The Kimball Art Center, home to Sundance House during the Annual Sundance Film Festival, invited an international group of architects to submit designs for an interior renovation of the existing Kimball Art Center and the construction of a new building directly adjacent to the original, located centrally in Park City, Utah. The winning project, announced by The Wall Street Journal this past weekend, was selected by an official jury while giving voice to the visitors of the Kimball Art Center – including those who recently attended the ten day Sundance Festival in January. The construction is expected to begin in mid-2013, with completion by 2015. Other finalists included major U.S based offices, including Brooks + Scarpa Architects, Sparano + Mooney Architecture, Will Bruder + Partners Ltd., and Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects.

KIM Image by BIG 14 600x375 BIG + Architectural Nexus win the competition for the Kimball Art Center

Kimball Art Center, render courtesy BIG

It was hard for the jury to choose between the five excellent finalists. BIG won the competition by proposing an iconic building that honors the spirit of Park City’s past and looks ahead into the 21st century. BIG’s design boldly reinterprets the Kimball Art Center’s place in the city skyline with this amazing new structure for the arts.

Maurice Cox, Jury Member and architectural educator at the University of Virginia, former director of Design for the National Endowment for the Arts

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Kimball Art Center - Diagrams, drawing courtesy BIG

BIG’s design for the new Kimball Art Center, inspired by the urban development of Park City, the Kimball site, and the city’s mining heritage, envisions the building as an anchor for the street life on Main St. and as a gateway and landmark for Park City. The new Kimball is designed with the flexibility, character and personality necessary to become a natural incubator for public life.

BIG built the strongest case for the continuity of Park City’s history—a bold, poetic new landmark to resurrect the spirit of the Coalition Mine Building that burned down in the 1980s. The design concept supports our mission to present engaging exhibitions, education, and events, and enhances the natural flow between the three in a uniquely free-form way. As the Kimball Art Center expands in scope and reputation, embracing both the local community and a growing group of international visitors and art collectors, BIG’s design sets a course for the future.

Robin Marrouche, Executive Director, Kimball Art Center

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Kimball Art Center, render courtesy BIG

At 80 feet, the new Kimball Art Center matches the height of the formerly neighboring Coalition Building. The building footprint and lower gallery sit in relation to Main St. and the city grid, and as the building rises it turns to greet visitors entering the city via Heber Ave, creating an iconic yet contextual building at the city’s doorstep. Referencing Park City’s mining heritage, the façade is constructed of massive stacked timber elements, creating an open publicly accessible space inside.

The raw charm of Park City and the Kimball Art Center is rooted in a culture of appropriating the structures of past industry to accommodate spaces for cultural life and leisure. The plumes of smoke from the chimneys have turned into clouds of snow from the snow cannons. The old garage is now an art museum. With our design for the new Kimball we seek to continue this tradition by using the construction technique of the old mines and the railroad trestles that have marinated for decades in the Great Salt Lake to create a raw spacious framework for the art and artists of Park City – a very traditional material and technique deployed to produce a highly contemporary expression. Where the Coalition Building once stood as a landmark for Park City as a mining town– the new Kimball will be a beacon for Park City today as a home for an exploding cultural life and a sprawling creative community.

Bjarke Ingels, Founding Partner, BIG

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Kimball Art Center, render courtesy BIG

The twisting façade of the building encloses a continuous spiral staircase, leading the visitors from the ground floor to the generous roof terrace, which can be used for outdoor exhibitions and events. Skylights allow light to wash down the gallery walls below. In between the two galleries is a restaurant, which spills out onto a sculpture garden on the rooftop of the existing, historic Kimball Art Center building.

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Kimball Art Center, render courtesy BIG

The existing building is converted into an educational hub, complementing the function of the new Art Center. At its heart is a flexible double height auditorium for screenings and exhibitions. During summer, the façade towards Heber Ave opens up to the street and exposes the internal activities. The roof of the existing building is equipped with solar thermal panels concealed by indigenous plants. An outdoor sculpture garden loops around the perimeter of the roof.

The new Kimball Arts Center takes advantage of Park City’s climate, with an objective to meet a LEED platinum rating by harnessing sources of natural heat, using natural daylight, maximizing ventilation, and recycling rainwater. Generous skylights and large ribbon windows flood the building with diffused natural light, greatly reducing energy costs for lighting. Operable skylights trigger natural stack ventilation. A ground-coupled heat exchanger is drilled deep into the ground in non-built areas. The heat pumps either extract heat from the circulating water in the winter, or reject heat in the summer.

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Kimball Art Center, render courtesy BIG

+ About BIG

BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group is a New York and Copenhagen based group of architects, designers and thinkers operating within the fields of architecture, urbanism, research and development. BIG has created a reputation for completing buildings that are as programmatically and technically innovative as they are cost and resource conscious. In our architectural production we demonstrate a high sensitivity to the particular demands of site context and program. BIG’s recently completed projects include The Danish Pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo (2010) and The 8 House (2010) being recently distinguished with a National AIA Honor Award and Wall Street Journal’s Innovator of the Year Prize . Projects being designed in North America, include the New York City based 600 unit West 57th Tower designed for Durst Fetner Residential which will break ground in the Spring of 2012 and the interactive Valentine’s Heart Sculpture currently on display at the Times Square in New York City.

+ About Kimball Art Center

Known as Kimball Corner, the original building on the property operated as a livery stable built to serve Park City’s tiny mining community. In 1929, the site transformed into the Kimball Bros garage and for 43 years served Park City’s automotive needs. In 1976, arts enthusiast Bill Kimball and friends transformed the dilapidated garage into a nonprofit community center for the visual arts. Bill Kimball wanted a gathering place for the community to enrich their lives and experience the transformative power of the arts. The Kimball Art Center (KAC) is the heart of Park City’s historic and vibrant arts community. It is a non-profit center for the arts, committed to engaging individuals of all ages in diverse and inspiring experiences through education, exhibitions and events.

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+ Project facts

Project: The Renovation and Expansion of Kimball Art Center.
Client: Kimball Art Center
Location: Park City, Utah, USA.
Size: 2.800 m2, 30.000 sf
Collaborators: Architectural Nexus, Dunn Associates, Van Boerum & Frank Associates, Envision Engineering, Big D Construction.

Partner-in-Charge: Bjarke Ingels, Thomas Christoffersen
Project Leader: Leon Rost
Team: Terrence Chew, Suemin Jeon, Chris Falla, Andreia Teixeira, Ho Kyung Lee

+ All images and drawings courtesy BIG

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Category: Culture

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  1. Art Busse says:

    Outlaw design rides into town, a month late – now what?

    Butch and Sundance must surely be spinning in their unmarked Bolivian graves at the sight of Park City, Utah, home of lovable outlaws and independent film makers, rolling out the red carpet to a handful of jet-set starchitects.

    If you were one of the millions of designers out there with a go-for-it attitude, a creative outlook and some serious time on your hands, you might have gotten fired up when The Kimball Art Center announced it’s plans for expanding. I sure did.

    And you might have been just as dismayed as I was to find out that only five concepts would be considered in the invitation-only ‘competition’.

    To be fair, there are reasons for this kind of approach, and the people in charge did an outstanding job. But do big names guarantee the best design in an era when, with a single keystroke, you can tap into the unplumbed depths of a world-wide pool of creativity and talent?

    I don’t think so, which is why I didn’t let a little thing like not being invited keep me from running alongside the limo. On my own dime, and in my own time, I too came up with a design for the new Kimball Art Center. All it cost me was four weeks, $1,000, and a broken heart, because, as usual, I fell in love with my own design.

    You can see it at;