Evolving Into a New Icon

By Julie Hooker

Housed in an historic building originally designed as a stable on the corner of Heber Avenue and Main Street, the Kimball Art Center is the heart of Park City’s art community. In 1929, the stable was transformed into the Kimball Brothers Garage. 43 years later, in 1976, Bill Kimball and other arts enthusiasts turned the dilapidated garage into a non-profit community center for the visual arts.

Now, in 2012, the Kimball Art Center is once again evolving to meet the needs of the community. As a non-profit organization, the Kimball Art Center is committed to engaging individuals of all ages in diverse and inspiring experiences through education, exhibitions, and events.

To ensure access to the visual arts for everyone, the Kimball Art Center must expand. This expansion began with a design competition that included proposals from five world-renowned architects. Selected architects partnered with local architectural firms to ensure that design and materials were suited for the Park City environment.

On February 11th, 2012, after a very public design competition that included feedback from the community, the Kimball Art Center chose Danish architect, Bjarke Ingels of BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group) to design the addition. Ingels’ design will incorporate the current historic garage building, create larger galleries, add a sunken theater for live performances, and include a sculpture park located atop a grassy roof terrace.

To say the least, Ingels’ design is unique. Inspired by the Coalition building that burned to the ground in 1982, the new Kimball Art Center will be a reminder of the town’s mining heritage. Like the Coalition building, the new Kimball Art Center will be an iconic image for Park City.

Ingels’ proposed design includes an 80-foot-tall tower made from former railway planks stacked at a slight spiral. The entire structure will appear to change direction midway.

Currently, the Kimball Art Center hosts a coffee bar and lounge. With the new building, there will be a proposed restaurant on the lobby floor. A cantilevered wooden staircase will direct visitors to the white-cube gallery floors above.

The Executive Director of the Kimball Art Center, Robin Marrouche notes, “Our goals for this expansion project include: increasing our educational outreach, enhancing the quality and scale of our exhibitions, and maintaining free admission to the public. We always strive to do more than meet a need; our goal is to inspire through artistic involvement. This design does precisely that.”

Local artist and former planning commissioner, Sibyl Bogardus, states, “I’m intrigued by the unusual approach to the design. It appears to capitalize on the historic nature of the current building while expanding and meeting the needs of everyone in Summit County, from students at-risk to art collectors.”

At this year’s Park City Kimball Arts Festival (Friday, August 3- Sunday, August 5, 2012), the largest fundraiser for the Kimball Art Center, visual displays of the most recent version of the design will be available. Marrouche explains, “This will help people visualize what the concept will look like on the space.”

Visit kimballartcenter.org for more information.

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