The design for the Windgate Center of Art + Design at the UA Little Rock campus celebrates the art that is created inside this facility. Bringing the art department programs under one roof was the goal – but the final result is a building that allows for all artists to collaborate and inspire each other.
WER Architects designed the new Art + Design building for the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, which houses the various functions and programs in the university’s Art Department. The art department had previously been housed in three separate buildings spread across campus. This new facility has created a space for all programs to collaborate and inspire.
The Windgate Center of Art + Design building is physically divided into two distinct architectural forms based on the distinctly unique use of the spaces. However, both forms are connected and share common building utilities and circulation patterns. The Applied Design area of the building is a single story high bay industrial style space that lends itself to 3 dimensional forms of art. Sculpting, Metalworking, Ceramics, Woodworking, Furniture Design and Jewelry Design are all housed in this wing. An outdoor yard can be accessed from the studios to allow the artists to explore the making of art in different applications and forms – and get extra messy.
The Visual Arts portion of the building is a 3-story structural steel framed building that houses the typical classrooms, galleries, lecture hall, admin area and other miscellaneous spaces that make up the visual arts program. Drawing and Painting studios are strategically located on the North side of the building to capture daylight so the artists can explore the impact of natural light through their art. The studio spaces have a consistent character and function so they are interchangeable to address surges of interest in the coming years.
Sustainable measures are fully integrated into the building orientation, exterior envelope and support systems to support energy and long-term maintenance efficiencies. The building will pursue LEED Gold and is currently being registered in the LEED Certification program.
The Windgate Center of Art + Design building was designed to have a strong community presence to help strengthen the various community partnerships that have been forged over the years. The central “crit” bleacher design provides a place for students and faculty to come together to discuss projects and to have a communal hangout space. Access for gallery shows, art festivals and other events is an important component in the building design – welcoming the community, visitor or passer-by an opportunity to introduce more art into their lives.