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Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Building at Laumeier, 3 Years Later

Three years ago I posted about the Aronson Fine Arts and Education Center, which was under construction at Laumeier Sculpture Park. At the time I found it curious how a rendering of the project did not match the Brooks + Scarpa design I knew of; turns out their project was put on hold in 2008 (when lots of projects were put on hold) and was subsequently abandoned. This information is per a St. Louis Public Radio piece from July 2015, when the building opened. The new building is by Trivers Associates, a local firm that appears capable of turning out a fine building, if not one as exciting as its predecessor.

The other day, when in Missouri on vacation, I stopped by and snapped a few photos.

Laumeier Sculpture Park

Like the rest of Laumeier Sculpture Park, the Adam Aronson Fine Arts Center is free and open daily. The building is located adjacent to the main parking lots, just west of Laumeier's Estate House (now Kranzberg Education Lab, renovated by Trivers). The building provides interior gallery space for an institution primarily geared to outdoor art; Laumeier executive director Marilu Knode is quoted in the STL Public Radio piece: "You know we’re an outdoor park, we don’t need a fancy building we need something that’s like a barn!" The design could be seen as a contemporary barn, with a curved profile and asymmetrical massing.

Laumeier Sculpture Park

The primarily solid north elevation (below) that faces the parking lot is covered in wood panels and vertical wood fins set at slight angles to each other. These fins seem to mimic the irregularity of nature, like an extension of the grasses next to the building.

Laumeier Sculpture Park

On the east facade (below), which faces the old Estate House, the glass storefront is covered by more wood fins. Here the orientation is strictly vertical, but the bottom edge curves, reiterating the profile of the roof. The overhang of the roof/wall, combined with the fins, cuts down on direct sunlight entering the gallery space in the morning.

Laumeier Sculpture Park

The standing seam roof, first glimpsed on the north, wraps around to the south (below) to close off the gallery from any direct southern sunlight.

Laumeier Sculpture Park

Inside, the curved gable creates a fairly pleasing open gallery space that looks onto the old Estate House (below). Per the architects, elsewhere in the building are a new visitor's resource center, multi-purpose disciple classroom, painting studio, clay studio, and media room, as well as support spaces (art staging, art archive and a catering kitchen).

Laumeier Sculpture Park

Filled with Drawing from the Collection: 40 Years at Laumeier on my visit, the gallery felt a bit empty, underutilized. Perhaps this is so the space can double for events, but it seems that the curators need to figure out how to best use the space, whose height allows tall pieces and whose shorter walls are suited to paintings and drawings. Compared with the barn-like galleries of Herzog & de Meuron's Parrish Art Museum, this gallery lacks warmth, but I could see some larger, colorful artworks here providing some much-needed contrast to the white and gray.

Laumeier Sculpture Park

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