Grimshaw has just revealed initial concepts of the new 21,000 square-foot arts complex for Santa Monica College (SMC) in Santa Monica, California. Scheduled for completion in 2024, the building is planned as a “factory of creativity”, replacing an existing surface car park and serving as a new western gateway for the college. Located on the corner of 14th Street and Pico Boulevard, the new Arts Complex takes on an industrial yet elegant aesthetic. Welcoming for both students and faculty, as well as the community of Santa Monica, the project comprises of three distinct volumes, linked through external, shaded areas. The three buildings house three arts education pillars: studios, teaching spaces and workshops; prioritizing function over discipline. Woven together by a loose-fit external perforated metal screen, a backdrop for the artwork, the volumes have a unified identity. In addition, the building’s skin creates a dappled sunlight effect, “allowing the lighting conditions to change over the course of the day in the circulation areas […] the new arts complex is set away from the property line with a landscaped buffer to decrease ambient noise from busy working art students”. The entrance, a dynamic sequence of open areas and volumes, reveals internal operations, whereas the initial external plaza allows the flow of students between the core campus and the arts complex.
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