The 31,200-square foot Collections Building was designed as a learning tool, bringing students directly into the 7,000-square foot art collection storage areas, doubling as classroom space. Artwork is easily viewed and stored for teaching purposes with flat work grouped on racks to show period work of a typology, an artist or a theme, furniture is stored to explain progression, while textiles and ceramics are stored as display to bring students directly into the art.
Externally, a continuous brick wall faces the entry court providing gentle reflections of the historic Saarinen-designed Art Museum. Trimmed with stainless steel blades and accented by a stainless steel bench, the expression creates a dialogue with the lines of the Museum.
Anchoring the building’s descending brick volume’s edge are zinc clad steel panels, which enclose the working yard as a counterpoint to the lead coated copper panels on the Ceramic Studio. Completing the composition is a stainless steel clad projected window. Here, the deep brown brick wrapping the structure from the west unites with the light red brick of the Studio Building to engage the window and define the Seminar Room within.
The Collections Building is designed as a finely crafted, environmentally robust place of learning about art within the art itself. Utilitarian concrete block is detailed to enhance the material quality to an artistic light. Openings within the block have a stainless steel plate surround. Mahogany plank doors are introduced with custom stainless steel push/pulls to accentuate the act of crossing each threshold.
Nearly doubling the Museum’s usable space, the building allows the full collection of design, textiles, ceramics and fine art, from famed designers and alumni to be displayed and accessed, underscoring the pedagogical mission of the institution by bringing the collection to life for a new generation.