During the nineteenth century, Alfred New York was a major design and manufacturing region for architectural terra cotta, ceramic, and glass. Many industrial age terra cotta products used on buildings in New York and throughout the country were manufactured in Alfred. Recently, Ikon.5 architects completed the McGee Art Pavilion for Alfred University’s New York State College of Ceramics.
The McGee Art Pavilion is an expansion to the School of Art and Design at the New York State College of Ceramics. Designed as a large ceramic container for holding art and light, the pavilion is set on a plaza between two existing campus buildings on the main pedestrian road on the campus, creating a realization of the manufacturing history of Alfred.
Its ceramic façade, made of un-glazed terra cotta tubes, is a solar and rain screen. The tubes that make up the screen are suggestive of the ceramic vessels and art objects created inside the School of Art and Design. Their un-glazed flushed white pigment is similar to the nature of student art work before final finishing. Furthermore, the staggered pattern of the façade is enthused by the racks of unfinished ceramic articles that envelop the art studios.
Cantilevering over a glass wall, the pavilion vividly engages campus on-lookers as a piece of ceramic art and allows them to see inside the exhibition gallery, consequently putting student work on public display. The exhibition space is inherently flexible and large enough to display hefty contemporary art pieces. In addition, a mezzanine gallery overlooks the two story exhibition hall to give a bird’s eye perspective to the three dimensional works. Additionally, the mezzanine connects to the immersive gallery, which is a black box space for the total immersive display of video and audio art forms. Finally, art studios, expanded media studios, art history classrooms, and support spaces are located below the exhibition hall.
The McGee Pavilion is designed to achieve a USGBC LEED Silver certification through control of day lighting in the galleries, TPO roofing, low consumption water fixtures, and high efficiency heating ventilation and air condition systems, including radiant heating in the exposed concrete floors of the studios and exhibition space.