Windgate Art & Design Building


Windgate Art & Design Building

Awards Won

Members Choice Award 2017

Location

Fort Smith, AR

Architect

WER Architects/Planners

Project Team

Russell Fason, AIA, LEED AP
Eldon Bock, AIA, LEED AP
David Sargent, AIA, LEED AP
Jerome Sorensen, AIA, LEED AP

Photo Credit

Aaron Kimberlin

Project Overview

The architectural solution for the Windgate Art & Design building is restrained, placing focus on the craft of art not only inside but outside the building as well – welcoming the community, visitor or chance passer-by an opportunity to introduce more art into their lives.

The arts faculty embraced architectural charrettes and programming, which truly made the facility their own. Transparency was used throughout to celebrate the process of creating art as being non-linear and messy. Clustering offices created inspirational zones for faculty and students. Art History classrooms were placed on the upper floor to draw non-art majors
thru the building in hopes to capture one or two into the program. Art program components include papermaking, letterpress, screen-printing, drawing, painting, photography and graphic design. The majority of studio spaces have a consistent character and function so they are interchangeable to address surges of interest in the coming years. Function specific studios for screen-printing and utilizing century old letterpresses have been tailored to unique equipment and processes.

It was important for us to celebrate the impact daylight can have on this facility, not only to support the studio works within but to also show how much natural light plays in unveiling a building's shape and texture. Once inside, the building is designed solely on principles of collaboration, learning and efficiencies. The central “crit” stair is not only an important connecting element for public and student galleries but also a community hangout space and provides an impromptu critique venue with pin-up and lounge space on each level.

Much effort was given to a contextual response to the campus architecture. It was important however to let the special functions of the facility express themselves as only an art program can. The heavy campus brick standard therefore gives way to a greater porosity within the exterior skin at the public galleries and studios to solicit the pedestrian, informing them of the process of art within.

Our biggest challenge was to maintain the design of the building as a simple, supporting backdrop to the programs within. Our goal was to leave this building a canvas full of white space, an understated backdrop for the creativity of the artists within.