HISTORICAL & INDUSTRIAL ARTS CENTER
Birmingham, Alabama, is by origin a city of industry, possessing a rich history relating to the manufacturing and fabrication of steel. This community arts center seeks to elaborate upon that history in an educational pursuit of the historical and industrial arts which by essence are innate within the culture and craft of Birmingham.
This building seeks to maximize environmental and social transparency through opening the envelope to the surrounding industry and environment. Education can be expanded beyond classrooms, via exposure, ultimately manifesting in a unified sense of cultural identity and community integration. With this in mind, the relationships of the differing programs in this building are designed to be experienced comprehensively, with a cross transparency of spaces furthering this pursuit of exposure and formulation of cultural identity.
Similar to the environmental and programmatic exposures, the structure seeks to be seen and experienced throughout the building. The cantilevers which suspend the second floor out into the courtyard and onto the streetscape provide a unique opportunity to express structure differently from exterior to interior. Specifically, the large truss which occupies the second floor wine bar seeks to alter preconceived notions regarding the nature of structure. Instead of being hidden inside of walls or becoming a slightly protruding surface, structure instead becomes spatial, defining user interactions of movement and procession. Despite the potential complexity and contradictions of this idea, the plan of the building remains straightforward and concise, working to create complexity of space rather than form.