Denver Arts Center
DATE: January - May 2015
TEAM: Lindsay Pericich & Ariel Peisen
LOCATION: 7th Avenue & Santa Fe Drive Denver, Colorado
MEDIA: Revit, Rhino, Photoshop, & Illustrator
DESIGN THESIS: The intent of our design is to create a sustainable home for the arts community and a gathering space to further integrate the arts corridor with the neighborhood,while creating a greater draw from the surrounding city to come experience the new Denver Art Center and the entire art district through the use of simple yetelegant form and beautiful detailing with natural materials. The emphasis of our design intent is to harness the chameleon-like power of the natural daylight inColorado. Using the neighborhood context and the quality of light in Colorado as launching points, our design will engage the Art District on Santa Fe through the useof materials, sunlight, and contextual geometries that define the area. A contemporary approach to the neighborhood’s Victorian bungalows would take advantageof the iconic roof lines. The reinterpretation of the gable roof creates a direct link to the surrounding neighborhood context while also creating an abstracted andsimplified ode to the Rocky Mountains. Close attention to const ruction detailing and material finishes will provide a modern in terpretation of the surrounding homes.Through the use of rammed earth as our primary building material along with steel and glass we seek to create a tension between heavy and light. This same tensionis emphasized through the reinterpretation of the gable roof and the intersection of the glass box, showing the pivitol moment of the residential neighborhood turninginto a commerical district at the corner of the 7th and Santa Fe.
The quality of light in Colorado and its effects on the surfaces it touches is very unique. Sunlight in the various regions and settings of Colorado provide inspirationfor interior and exterior design strategies. Rays peeking over cliffs, the glimmer of light on granite, the intense beams at s unset will all contribute to our play withlight. The evolution of a rammed earth surface throughout the day and its transformation at night is an active and engaging element of the building that can beinteracted with on a daily basis by occupants as well as passers by. Understanding and harnessing the power of light will be key to this design. The quality of lightdoes not only impact the building during the day, but also at night. The shift from the changing façade of daylight to a glowing beacon at night time will allow thebuilding to function as an anchor for the neighborhood and truly as a gateway to the Art District on Santa Fe as well as the greater city of Denver, Colorado. The keyfocuses of this design will be to unify the surrounding neighb orhood to the Santa Fe Drive commercial corridor by utilizing C olorado’s rich landscape and creatingplays on light that will activate both the exterior and interio r spaces. The decision for using rammed earth and glass, the op en free flowing circulation patterns, andbuilding orientation will all stem from this interaction with light.
The combination of the reinterpreted gable roof and the interes t in harnessing the power of light ties together through the us e of specific angles to capture thecorrect sunlight at the correct times. All gables will be at a 32.74 degree angle, the optimum angle for solar panels in Denver. South facing gables will have solarpanels while the north facing gable is pierced with skylights to allow ambient northern light into the space and allow clear views of the bright blue Colorado sky andstraight to Downtown for the artists in residency. The pitched roof will also help in dealing with snow load. Allowing an angl ed roofline to not only activate the designthrough aesthetics but through function will further reinforce our focus on creating a multi-functional space that separates i tself from the superfluous detailingcommon in the surrounding neighborhood.
The building will be divided into private, semi-public, and public spaces, creating a transition from the private residences adjacent to the alley to the hustle and bustleof Santa Fe Drive. The interior of the building will provide a clear transitional distinction for users to understand the various functions housed within the center.Building tectonics and program layout will separate circulatory paths for artists, visitors, and administration in order to maintain an easily navigable path for eachfunction until you reach the 3rd floor where all occupants circu late on the same paths.
The material choices bring the design full circle in terms of creating connections to the community and to the Colorado landscape. Selectively placed rammed earthwalls will provide the thermal mass required for passive solar heating and cooling. The layers created during the rammed earth construction process create avisual representation of the striation of the landscape. Integrating circulation and rammed earth into the same progression will make a play on a walk through themountains. These same layers create the chameleon effect as the sunlight changes throughout the day. Beetle kill pine will be used to form and accent interiorspaces. This local material will take advantage of its own destruction by giving it new life throughout the design. Stained steel panels will also be used to framewindow and door openings. Sustainability issues are addressed through the use of locally sourced materials (earth from the surrounding areas, beetle kill pine,recycled glass), the optimized use of solar panels, and our passive heating strategies.
The Denver Arts Center will serve as an iconic landmark for the district, anchoring Santa Fe Drive as a gateway to the arts and to Denver. The center will providethe connections to the landscape, especially the mountains, that the population of the neighborhood feels disconnected from. Sustainable goals will allow the buildingto positively impact the community, while at the same time taking advantage of the beautiful local materials. The abstracted form of the gable roofs furthers theconnecting to the surrounding site context, and truly marks the Denver Arts Center as a home for the arts.