Bjarke Ingels Group, famed firm, tapped for Park City art center design | ParkRecord.com

Bjarke Ingels Group, famed firm, tapped for Park City art center design

The Kimball Art Center on Monday announced it has selected the architectural firm Bjarke Ingels Group to design the organization’s planned building along Kearns Boulevard. Bjarke Ingels Group previously crafted two ultimately unsuccessful concepts for an expansion of the Kimball Art Center’s former location in Old Town, shown.

The Kimball Art Center leadership on Monday said the organization has tapped a Danish architectural firm to design the organization's planned building in an arts and cultural district along Kearns Boulevard, opting for the same firm that crafted two ultimately unsuccessful concepts for the art center's former location along Main Street.

The hiring of Bjarke Ingels Group, a firm with offices in Copenhagen, Denmark, London and New York, returns a renowned name in the architectural field to what has been a difficult, highly charged process as the Kimball Art Center continues the efforts to develop a permanent facility.

The Kimball Art Center more than six years ago began the expansion efforts, saying it needed more space for exhibits and classes. It first focused on a major renovation and expansion of its longtime headquarters just off the Main Street-Heber Avenue intersection. The organization at that time hired Bjarke Ingels Group for the design.

The Kimball Art Center initially picked a Bjarke Ingels Group design that resembled stacked railroad trestles climbing to a height of approximately 80 feet. It was widely criticized in the community and was not pursued. Bjarke Ingels Group followed the initial design with a triangular concept that was also rebuffed by many and eventually rejected by City Hall after it was determined the design did not meet the municipal government's strict Old Town guidelines.

The rejection led to the Kimball Art Center selling the property and moving into temporary quarters on Kearns Boulevard as it considered long-term plans for a permanent facility. City Hall later unveiled plans to develop an arts and cultural district along Kearns Boulevard with the Kimball Art Center and the Sundance Institute as the anchor tenants. The Kimball Art Center wants Bjarke Ingels Group to design a building for the arts and cultural district.

"They're really very knowledgeable about who we are, what we do," Robin Marrouche, a member of the Kimball Art Center's board of directors, said about Bjarke Ingels Group, adding, "They're a very creative firm. … They come up with concepts for clients that are incredibly innovative and also very cost effective."

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Marrouche said the firm intends to craft an "entirely new design" that does not rely on the earlier concepts for the location along Main Street. The Kimball Art Center leadership contends the site along Kearns Boulevard does not involve the same level of architectural restrictions as the organization encountered in Old Town.

Marrouche was the Kimball Art Center's executive director during the earlier discussions between the organization and City Hall about the Bjarke Ingels Group designs for the former location. She later stepped down as the top staffer to take a place on the board of directors focused on long-term planning.

Marrouche is seen as the Kimball Art Center's most notable advocate for Bjarke Ingels Group's involvement in the project. She said, though, the Kimball Art Center accepted proposals from other firms before the board of directors unanimously opted to retain Bjarke Ingels Group for the new location.

"Despite its rapid rise and international acclaim, (Bjarke Ingels Group) has a soft spot for Park City and the Kimball and has a strong desire to finish what it started," the Kimball Art Center said in a release announcing the selection.

The Kimball Art Center plans discussions with City Hall about a development, expects to study programming options that will influence the design and anticipates conducting community-outreach efforts. Marrouche said the design will meet zoning restrictions in place at the location. The Kimball Art Center will not seek exceptions to the restrictions, she said.

The Kimball Art Center and City Hall also still must reach an agreement for the organization to acquire a parcel in what will be the arts and cultural district. The Kimball Art Center on Monday said it hopes a new building debuts in 2022.