Text description provided by the architects. Bridging between the present and future of art, the new David T. Beals III Studio for Art and Technology at the Kansas City Art Institute creates a flexible, technology-rich learning and working environment that supports the prototyping and development of innovative student projects.
Recognizing the Institute’s need for a space that helps students become skilled in using digital fabrication technologies to communicate their ideas, Gould Evans responded by designing a versatile, open, daylit volume to provide maximum flexibility, both as a daily work space and over time as educational programming and technology evolves.
The studio is a central resource shared by all the Institute’s 13 majors, ranging from ceramics and sculpture to fiber and filmmaking. The new 5,000 square-foot addition to the Sculpture Department’s Volker Building features a gallery and critique room where students and faculty can present, review and display their work, and a fabrication lab equipped with state-of-the-art technology. The fab lab includes interactive touch screens for digital collaboration, laser cutters, engravers, eight different types of 3D printers, computer numerical control (CNC) routers, cameras, scanners, and a digital loom.
The KCAI campus is traditional, yet eclectic, with campus buildings surrounding an historic estate and its original mansion, Vanderslice Hall, now the administrative center for the Institute. Designed as a counterpoint to the 1896 Vanderslice building, the Beals Studio expresses KCAI’s balance of modernity and tradition. Re-using the existing structure of the Volker building, which is a previous project done by Gould Evans, the black matte metal paneling façade and simple shed form of the studio contrast gently with the historic building, contributing to the richness of the campus.
Concurrently with the construction of the new building, Gould Evans also designed a new campus entryway, landscaping, and a public plaza integrating the Beal’s Studio to Vanderslice and the rest of the campus.