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Accruing Atmosphere.

Riverwalk Artist Studios

 

The Chattahoochee runs like an artery through Columbus' urban core, pumping water through the rift between its downtown and Phenix City. The river connects multiple towns across Alabama and Georgia, a relationship that has had both commercial and recreational ramifications. Today, the stretch of whitewater that separates the two cities is the longest urban rafting course in the world, and one of Columbus’ biggest draws for outdoor enthusiasts. Most of the city’s historic buildings take the form of either functioning, abandoned, or repurposed mill architecture. Many of the neighborhoods within the city limits started off as communities for the mill workers. Several of the mills had dams spanning the breadth of the river, most of which have since been demolished to enable more white water rafting. This site was selected because the overlap of the artistic and historic networks, the rich character of local materials, and the juxtaposition of urban and natural fabrics resulted in a preexisting set of atmospheric conditions. The river especially provides a connection between primitive, resultant, and considered atmosphere within an urban context.

 

The project program consists of three artist studios and a gallery oriented along an east to west axis. These are a pottery studio and outdoor kiln, a music studio above a multipurpose space, and a painting studio nested within the gallery. Formally, the structure is composed of two steel volumes that float above a concrete plinth, held together by a glue-laminated truss skeleton.  The volumes are largely devoid of openings on the sides, preserving the privacy of the artists and the integrity of the material. Light enters from above and from a few key side openings. The site is traversed by a set of overlapping paths, each catering to a different type of user.

Categories

architecture, atmosphere, patina, masterplan, commercial, materiality

Location

Columbus, GA, United States

Size

50,000 ft²

Date

Spring 2020

Faculty

Justin Miller

Typology

Artist Studios, ​Landscape

Institution

Auburn University, Studio X

Map of Columbus

Macro and Micro Context

The site is located in the larger metropolitan area containing Auburn, Opelika, and Columbus. Additionally, it is oriented along a major historic and cultural axis along the riverfront. The subdued material palette is locally sourced.

Urban Artery

The project frames the entry to the park, and its forms are replicated across the landscape. It is mirrored by the repurposed City Mills buildings to the North.

Concepts

Early studies in section and elevation. Originally graphite on trace measuring 12" x 36" each.

Materials and techniques were implemented which mature over time.

Bookends

The steel volumes of the studios frame one end of the park, while city mills holds the other edge.

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Mystery is prioritized over views to the interior. The skin is pulled back or punctured in a handful of moments to permit daylight.

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Mediating Knuckle

The studios project into the river, providing a node around which visitors can gather. The overhang provides protection and the launch engages the river.

 Patina

 

The material palette is limited in scope but rich in texture. The manner in which deposits accrue and mark surrounding materials were tested in the material tested described in the previous section. This reduction in palette places emphasis on the imperfections and weathering patterns that emerge over time.

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Showcase

A gallery for both creation and art produced in and on the building. A display case for craft and patina.

Music Studio

Pairing acoustic and visual reflection. The pool serves as a privacy barrier between performers and walkers.

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Overlapping Axes

The project can be experienced in multiple ways, and each avenue of access permits views of the others. 

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Perpendicular and Parallel

The Columbus Riverwalk passes between the studio volumes, above the Chattahoochee River access and below the studio axes.