Irvine Center for Contemporary Art, University of California / Ehrlich Yanai Rhee Chaney Architects

Irvine Center for Contemporary Art, University of California / Ehrlich Yanai Rhee Chaney Architects

© Lawrence Anderson

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https://www.archdaily.com/259602/university-of-california-irvine-contemporary-arts-center-ehrlich-architects

Text description of the architects. This 55,000-square-foot contemporary art college is the winner of a design-build competition and tailored to the climate and community context of Southern California. The high-performance project, for which LEEDTM Gold certification is pending, includes innovative strategies for energy efficiency that turn into bold design ideas. The five-story structure is embedded in an existing urban arts campus and includes a large experimental black box theater and art gallery, both double-height rooms, surrounded by several studios, classrooms and offices. The architecture reinforces the interdisciplinary approach of the School of the Arts and stimulates interaction with the surrounding Arts Village with several terraces, landscaped courtyards, balconies and a colonnade. A new entrance plaza was planted with shady trees and equipped with wooden benches and integrated lighting to make it an inviting public meeting room.

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The complex’s well-located marine climate, which is four miles from the sea, contributed to the main design idea. The theater and gallery, the two large spaces that require highly mediated environmental control and lighting, are at the core of the building. Wrapped around them are smaller, naturally ventilated rooms and corridors that make up most of the exterior of the building. Since these outdoor areas are specifically not air-conditioned, users are trained in temperature control with operable windows and take part in the green agenda. The top floor consists entirely of naturally ventilated artist studios that open onto outdoor terraces that also serve as extended work areas. The west facade features metal sunscreens and airy exterior corridors with windows that lead to offices. In the early stages of the design, wind tunnel tests were conducted that included air ducts that pull hot air through the roof and provide additional cross ventilation and cooling.

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The Arts Building was built on a hillside and is clad in brick veneer, concrete masonry, and glass that reference the materials that make up much of the surrounding campus. In contrast to the sun protection strategies of the west facade, the north facade is a glazed wall. The full height of the postless glass of the lobby allows an unobstructed view of the building, while a composition of clear, frosted glass and gusset glass hovers above it. The paving stones of the entrance plaza are continued into the lobby, whereby the emphasis on the inside and outside is increased.

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