Pomona College Studio Art Hall - Design Strategy

The new Studio Art Hall at Pomona College brings together, under one roof, art making, art appreciation and art interaction. The Studio Art Hall synergizes many important faces of the school’s esteemed identity as a leading liberal arts college. At the heart of the school’s mission is a drive to create a balanced, well-rounded education for its students. An exposure to the studio arts is critical within this objective. Whether a student continues an education in the fine arts or is off to a future in another field entirely, part of the project’s objective is to create a physical environment where an appreciation for the creative art process can be nurtured and explored.

Recognizing that artists have historically been catalysts for urban and cultural development, the wHY IDEAs Workshop, working with the Pomona College team, reimagined the program with a site that supports the making of art in a more public campus setting. The village-like open, porous nature of the new building forges new connections within the site’s key position at an intersection of daily campus life and other campus arts buildings. This green, cool, transparent and collaborative atmosphere serves as a nexus for cross-pollination of ideas from the entire campus.

From the project’s conception, programming sessions with the art faculty and students uncovered a desire for interaction and engagement among the disciplines during the art-making process. As formative minds explore new ideas, materials and media, collisions between different thoughts and influences are to be encouraged.

To address this, wHY created semi-public collaborative 'gray spaces' for exploring and exchanging ideas in a more informal way, and gave them just as much importance as formal studio spaces. By arranging major program elements around a central courtyard that is itself part of a prominent diagonal path through campus, the new building encourages collaboration among art majors as well as non-art majors and the general public that the College desires.

Throughout the building, the individual studio spaces are stacked with strategic areas of transparency to the whole. Visual connections are established across open spaces in the building open artistic dialogue. Covering and bringing it all together is an arching steel and wood roof that echoes the rise and fall of the nearby mountain range and draws parallels to the historic bow-string trussed warehouses that now house art galleries and studios throughout Los Angeles. Every studio space not only has views of the lush, natural surroundings of the arroyo but also the capacity to expand the working environment into the open air or natural surroundings.