Art Center Site Visit

Art Center – South Campus visit 2012-09-21

-Allegra Gonzalez

The next visit on the site design tour was Art Center College of Design South Campus to talk to Elizabeth Chin. Students and faculty here are working on everything from vibrant data (library/ info professionals perk up) to an anthropology/design project in Uganda. We learned much from looking at this center that had taken over CalTech’s old wind tunnel. While South Campus is a decidedly larger space than our proposed future home, we saw some design elements and intentions that could work for us, and as you learn from living in a space, some experiments to avoid.

We especially liked the use of (recycled?) material for sound such as felt-board walls.

While sound can still be an issue, at least it is not reverberating off the walls as one would expect in such a cavernous space. The walls also double as pin boards for self-expression and project planning 

Even here space is at a premium and Art Center is looking at building a tower within the tunnel. While this is not an option in Claremont, we can look to the simple, mobile space dividers/cable drops and walls to maximize our space constraints.  We began to envision large worktables that can fold up and out of the way as well as projection screens sliding along light cables when looking at the clever utilization of space. No element seemed to be just decorative, but more utilitarian if not multiple-use or at the least, repurposed.

Elizabeth mentioned the intent to provide space design that facilitates and inspires faculty conversation came about in a room designed by Sean Donahue. This concept was intriguing and we look forward to speaking with Sean, as well as another Art Center faculty member, Tim Durfee, an architect who “thinks in a much more wide-open manner than many or most in his line of work and training.”

The projects in process at Art Center South Campus can be simple to more complex. Many of the tools for image and video manipulation we already work with, and it will be interesting to learn if some of the tech tools used here would find application in Claremont. There is already talk of Arduino interest and giant plotters. Thankfully, there are large format plotters on campus and we don’t have to worry about those big machines eating up ink and our little space.

Another nice perk besides the toys for Art Center faculty is the guarantee of 100 hours of student help per faculty member.  That would be nice, as well as a staff person to manage schedules and time cards. Once the CCDH Center is up and running, I am sure we’ll have to turn away student help.  Now if only we can have a Big Ass fan and a rooftop garden. 

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