05. Mar 2010

Art piece art college
Gateway Building, Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore/USA

Text: David Müller
Photos: Paul Burk, Robert Creamer

“The artist’s genius is manifest in his choice of clay.” This quote from Edgar Allen Poe is also relevant for professional lighting designers. In times when energy saving and sustainability are often in conflict with creating quality spaces for users, the choice of light source is of prime importance. People visiting Baltimore/USA, where Poe spent many years of his life, and looking for his house in the centre of town are in for a grand surprise: next to one of the highways there is a conglomeration of glass buildings, some of which appear to be on stilts. Different colours are reflected on their shiny surfaces. After dark a random array of lights shine out from within its translucent shell.

What looks like a giant snail is actually the Gateway Building – a residence hall for students from the Maryland Institute College of Art. A team of architects from RTKL has designed a lively, communicative and open structure for the students, and lighting designer Glenn Shrum has provided the building with a simple but vibrant lighting scheme. For the last 184 years, the Maryland Institute College of Art, MICA, in Baltimore/USA has enjoyed the reputation of one of the most highly regarded art schools in the United States. A total of 1932 students from 53 different countries attend courses here on Photography, Art History or Video and Film Art. The campus is located to the north of the centre of Baltimore, a re-emerging area of the city. Work began on the Gateway in 2006, the goal being to provide high-quality accommodation for the resident students. The 32 million dollar project comprises over 8000 square meters (87,000 square feet) of space for students’ apartments, studio spaces, a multi-use performance space and a career advising centre. The structure is situated on a busy street, West Mount Royal Avenue, and defines the northern edge of the campus. In that sense it is a highly representative building for the College. “This building is an anchor site for our campus”, Fred Lazarus, President of MICA goes as far as to say. RTKL was commissioned to design the architecture. The architecture firm initiated an in-house competition inviting employees under the age of 30 from any of their nine worldwide offices to submit conceptual building designs. The winners were Grant Armstrong and Christy Wright from RTKL’s London office. Their design comprises a ten-story structure with a dominant studio tower on the northern side of the site. The tower wraps around it-self like a snail shell, forming a 600 square meter interior courtyard. There are already 217 students living in the Gateway. […]
The full version of the article can be found in PLD No. 70.

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