RedLine’s program capitalizes on the tangible benefits of education and training and the emotional benefits of connectivity, respect, and satisfaction for artists. The design offers unique opportunities for artists and visitors to enter a realm where inspiration is not held in check. For artists, the most fundamental spaces within RedLine are ten generously sized studios for mid career artists. For these studios, RedLine solicits interest from artists who want to make the leap from their current status to a more established standing. One goal is to improve their art, but RedLine also seeks to provide resources so that these artists might better understand other impediments that may be holding them back. This is done in part by the inclusion of three larger studios for established artists, one of whom is the client for the project. The client and other established artists will share their experiences with the mid career artists through an active mentoring program.
Architect: Semple Brown Design, P.C.
Location: Denver, Colorado, USA
Structural Engineer: McGlamery Structural Group
General Contractor: Spectrum General Contractor
Project Area: 20,000 sqf
Project Year: 2008
Photographs: Ron Pollard
At the core of the project is a central exhibition space, which will regularly host shows by the RedLine artists, but also those of outside artists. This gives exceptional opportunities for the mid career artists to have their work seen and to see the works of others. The exhibition space is lit via a flexible track system attached to an overhead steel grid, which also permits sculpture to be hung from above. An important planning aspect of the exhibition space is that all of the artists must pass through on their way to anywhere else in the building, ensuring a high degree of interaction among the artists. The imperative to interact and be part of a larger community is a key component of the vision for RedLine and that vision extends to the community at large.
In exchange for these benefits and a significantly reduced rental rate for their studios, the only requirement for the artists is that they spend time in community outreach. RedLine encourages its artists to be visible in their communities, but the design also incorporates a large space dedicated to community art activities, so the community can be brought to RedLine. One final resource available to the artists is a large library of art book, furnished by the client, from which the artists will be able to learn and draw inspiration. In a nod to the traditional idea of a wood paneled library, this library incorporates salvaged lumber from the interior demolition of the former automotive parts business.
The first interior space encountered by visitors is the reception lobby. The lobby serves as a place of business on a day to day basis, but also acts as an event space in conjunction with events in the exhibition hall. When the lobby is in business mode, a counter behind the reception desk gives immediate access to all of the typical amenities of an office. However, for events a large panel slides across to conceal the office elements and the reception desk converts to a bar/service area. For events, the lobby is initially separated from the exhibition hall by three large pivoting doors in closed position. The doors to the exhibition hall then opened in grand fashion to reveal the art beyond. Patrons pass through the doors, below a subtle cove of red light to reinforce the idea that patrons should discard their limiting preconceptions as they proceed into the exhibition hall. This singular element connects the lobby, library, and exhibition hall into a dynamic, unified composition.
While somewhat limited in scope, the exterior of the project incorporates additional major changes. While other potential buyers of the building viewed the elevated floor slab of the building as a hindrance to development, the design takes advantage of the change in elevation to provide a raised courtyard amenity. The accessible ramp provides a pleasant means of circling the courtyard along a landscaped planter. The wide stairs provide a grand entrance statement to the large, transparent entrance vestibule. Although the project aims to be very welcoming to the public, the fact remains that this neighborhood is not always a safe place to be. In recognition of this, the guardrail for the ramp that surrounds the court is maintained to provide a reasonable amount of security without compromising visibility and resorting to fortress like imagery.
Glass panel garage doors replace the original opaque doors at the warehouse’s former loading dock and allow an abundance of natural light during the day and allow the reception space to project a welcoming glow for evening events. The doors may also be opened in temperate weather and removable railings protect patrons from the drop. At the community art space the original façade was stripped away and replaced with large expanses of glass maximize daylight and to reinforce the connection between indoor and outdoors as well as the neighborhood.