In approaching the design for the new Kimball Art Center, Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) found great inspiration in the urban development of Park City, the Kimball site, and the city’s mining heritage. They feel the form of the new Kimball Art Center emerges where these rich stories overlap. More images and architects’ description after the break.
BIG was particularly moved when a long-time resident of Park City spoke nostalgically about the former Coalition Building, which once stood just south of the Kimball site. It stood 80 feet tall for 80 years as an iconic landmark for Park City and a monument to the mining heritage, until a fire tragically brought it down in 1982. They wanted to recreate some of its attributes in the new Kimball Art Center – not only the proportions and materiality but the history it represented.
Historically, timber was the primary construction material of the first miner settlers in Park City. Inside the mines, heavy timbers were stacked into retaining walls. The same technology inverted was applied outside the mines as primary structure for most residential construction. They conceived the new Kimball Art Center as an evolution of this construction technique basically a highly-evolved log cabin at an unprecedented scale.
BIG found the most interesting challenge to be where the Kimball is situated in the urban context. At the intersection of the most socially active street – Main St – and a diagonal street that has become the gateway to the city – Heber Ave – the new Kimball needed to address both orientations. They solved this by essentially giving each street a gallery. The building footprint sits in relation to Main St and the city grid, then as it rises it turns to greet visitors entering the city via Heber Ave, creating an iconic yet contextual building at the city’s doorstep.