Kimball Art Center picks Bjarke Ingels design for expansion project |

Kimball Art Center picks Bjarke Ingels design for expansion project

By Nan Chalat Noaker, The Park Record

A seven-member jury appointed by the Kimball Art Center has unanimously chosen the design submitted by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) for its expansion project at the intersection of Main Street and Heber Avenue.

The Danish architect envisions building a twisting, 80-foot tower made of railroad ties salvaged from the Great Salt Lake. Other features of BIG’s design that won over the jurors include a street-level galley oriented toward Main Street, a "sky gallery" facing Heber Avenue and a rooftop terrace. Between the galleries, the tower will also house a restaurant and administration spaces.

"BIG presented a bold approach that will allow us to vastly expand our mission and reputation and they gave us the innovative landmark design we hoped for," said Kimball Art Center Executive Director Robin Marrouche.

During a presentation to the jury on Feb 2, Ingels explained that his team drew their inspiration for the design from the Coalition Mine Building which once stood on Park Avenue before burning to the ground in the 1980s.

Marrouche said the jury is excited about working with such a world-renowned firm. BIG has recently garnered international recognition and she said the Kimball project is one of its first in the United States.

Last summer, the Kimball hired an architectural design contest advisor to help cast a wide net for proposals. Five finalists were chosen in November and their unique models were placed on display at the art center where the public input was encouraged. The final decision, however was up to the jury and then ratified by the Kimball’s board of directors this week.

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The BIG proposal has an estimated price tag of $10 million and the hopes are to begin construction in the spring of 2013. In the meantime, Marrouche said, they will be working closely with the architect and the city to modify the design and obtain the necessary approvals.