Editorial: New art center design is a better fit for historic district
Ryan Summerlin March 4, 2014
The Kimball Art Center has returned from the drawing board with a fresh design for its ambitious expansion plan. The current proposal still makes a dramatic architectural statement but is more in keeping with the spirit of Park City’s cherished Historic District.
The controversial 80-foot tall tower of railroad trestles, meant to mimic the old Coalition Mine Building, is gone, replaced with an elegant, angular entryway at the corner of Main Street and Heber Avenue that soars to 46 feet at its apex, within the city’s mandated height limit of 48 feet.
Some members of the Kimball board may be disappointed that their initial effort to create a striking new landmark drew so much criticism from the community, but they deserve praise for rebounding with a design that now meets all of the historic district’s building guidelines.
Thanks also go to the internationally recognized architectural firm, Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) for its willingness to amend and not abandon the project. The substantially trimmed-down edifice is likely one of the company’s smallest commissions, but its placement at a pivotal intersection in the heart of Old Town could make it a cornerstone of the community.
BIG’s new design conquers one of the Kimball Art Center’s biggest ongoing challenges drawing foot traffic from Main Street to its modest entrance on Park Avenue. The proposed soaring peak on Heber Avenue and Main enclosing a glass walled grand lobby promises to serve as a magnet not only for the art center but for all of Main Street.
The revised plan, announced Monday, also calls for an off-site campus to house the art center’s studios and classrooms. The need for a second site is partly a trade-off for the height of the first design, but is also a wise concession to the congestion and lack of parking on Main Street. renting or leasing space elsewhere in the city, the center can expand its growing list of educational programs.
The Kimball Art Center has become a vital part of the community as evidenced by the emotional tug of war over its future plans. Fortunately the center’s leadership has shown it has the wisdom to listen to the community and the drive to press forward.