Location: Denver [USA]
Client: Erik Isaac
Size: 10,000 sft
Rebel Alliance Studios [RAS] will be the newest major facility in Denver’s Art District on Santa Fe dedicated to contemporary art and thought. The facility will house fourteen premium artist workspaces, ideal for the creation of mixed-media artworks; and during the First Friday Art Walks, the studios transform into intimate exhibition spaces. The core and primary draw of the facility will be the museum-sized art gallery – the new home of the well established and popular Fu Collective + Gallery. In addition to its two structured programs, the RAS will include the Artists’ Lounge – a community place to network and brainstorm in a setting that is informal yet purposed. With the project’s completion, the intersection of Ninth and Santa Fe will become the new epicentre of the district.
Denver’s Art District on Santa Fe is a unique art and cultural district with over 40 galleries, restaurants and shops located just south of downtown Denver, Colorado. The Art District is filled with contemporary, emerging and traditional art including painting, sculpture, photography, mixed media, graphic art and textiles. The Art District opens its doors freely to lively Denver crowds for popular events such as the First Friday Art Walk, held every first Friday of the month and Collectors’ Night held every third Friday of the month.
The existing warehouse is a masonry envelope with wood trusses supporting a barrel vaulted roof. We are seeking to intensify this particular architectural experience by celebrating this unique industrial era structure. This is achieved by holding the white partition walls at a datum height of 9’-0” (two feet below the wood), providing a continuous visual reference; as well as strategically perforating the roof along the direction of the trusses to create ‘light lines’ parallel to the trusses. This natural daylight will also supplement the controlled lighting utilized for the display and creation of artwork. The exterior of the facility is unified into a singular black facade, perforated on axis with the gallery within by a storefront. The axis, perpendicular to the trusses and “light lines” continues out onto the sidewalk through a series of concrete seats.
On axis along the exterior storefront, the visitor is drawn into the heart of the RAS facility – the gallery; which is comprised of two distinct yet contiguous spaces. On axis, perpendicular to the barrelled trusses above is a space ideal for viewing 2-d works. The axis terminates in the second space, large and open, defined by the vaulted skylight above. Its openness and generous wall expanses are ideal for large works, as well as sculptures, media, installations and other 3-d works. This space is overlooked by the upper lounge, where live DJ music will be situated to enhance the First Friday experience.
The creation of art is a process influenced by everything in the artists life; the space in which that art is made being the most significant. Rebel Alliance Studios looked at every aspect of the studio process in designing these workspaces. The basic studio is designed at an intimate 200- 300sft, with the flexibility of these modular spaces combining into larger group spaces , if so desired. The 14 studios provide a density that maintains the balance of personal space with the energy of working within a community. The studios feature 9’ walls high white walls, with the original brickwork on the exterior wall of the outbound studios; open ceilings to the wood truss roof and minimum workspace dimensions of 16’x12’. Basic amenities include overhead track lighting with the option for additional light fixtures; sealed concrete floors; a large sliding door; wireless internet; common wet workroom with cubbies for each studio; 24/7 access and use of The Artists Lounge. The studios are organized as two, private “neighbourhoods” flanking the central gallery spaces. The neighbourhoods open up during the district’s First Friday Art Walk to join in the flow of the entire facility, transforming the studios into private exhibition spaces.
The artist’s lounge is an integral part of the creative process. It addresses the often overlooked element in the art world of networking and communication of ideas. The two main elements of the artists lounge are individual reflection, and spending time with people. It provides a platform to influence and be influenced by the community. Thus the Lounge acts as a space that allows the artists to relax and occasionally step away from the immediate environment of an ongoing project. The Artist’s Lounge may also act as a modest resource room; an ‘open shelf concept’ – with an emphasis on the informal collection of books, media, periodicals and ‘stuff’ brought in by artists.