Thursday, July 14, 2011

ARCHITECTURE-ARQUITECTURA TODAY: Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture

Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture by The Freelon Group Architects

Design Concept and Solution: Freelon took inspiration from the former Myers School, a touchstone of Charlotte's African-American community in the mid-20th century; its prominent fire escape (and provisional balcony overlooking the city) once symbolized community pride and lifted spirits. Working around an underground parking entrance at street level, the architects put the lobby atrium on the second floor and enclosed it in glass to give visitors that same sense of being lifted above the fray. They used a structural steel frame and clad the front of the building with a perforated metal rain screen backed by galvanized steel sheeting. (The rear facade, which faces a plot slated for development, is stucco accented with strip lighting.) Inspired by the pattern of a quilt, the metal panels of the main facade are stitched together with diagonal aluminum extrusions. In the lobby the architects translated the quilt motif into a sculptural drywall ceiling made from a series of angled planes. The galleries themselves are more subdued, with dark carpets and ceilings to keep the spotlight on the art.


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