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Sited directly to the west of the existing 1991 building, the first phase of this project was to create a unified facility for SIUE’s Art and Design Department. The design was conceptualized to provide enhanced space for an expanded program, incorporate campus design standards, and reflect/connect the natural environment that is the essence of this campus’ surroundings.
The form is composed of two masses, evoking the limestone cliffs that are a characteristic of the Mississippi River Valley in which the campus resides. The form of the western mass is shaped by the pedestrian flow of the student body, much like the passing waters of the Mississippi River eroding away the limestone bedrock. The eroded form allows for opportunities to use the terracotta shading elements to screen the interior from the western sun exposure, creating a layering of opaque, screened, and clear sight-lines. The eastern mass (protected by the western side) evokes the soft, radial plan traits in the existing building (projected in section) and capped by full-height glass on either end, further connecting the inhabitants to the scenic landscape beyond.
The first LEED® Gold Building for the University, the shift in massing allows for views at varied points outward, (particularly in the second floor classrooms, studios and informal gathering spaces) while allowing sunlight to infiltrate the building throughout the day from varied angles. The new campus art gallery, directly visible from the on-grade pedestrian walkway and sited at the terminus of the main axis of the two linked structures, symbolizes the culmination of the artistic process and heightens the importance of art to the greater campus.