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.
architecture, atmosphere, patina, masterplan, commercial, materiality
Columbus, GA, United States
Artist Studios, Landscape
Auburn University, Studio X
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.
Materials and techniques were implemented which mature over time.
The steel volumes of the studios frame one end of the park, while city mills holds the other edge.
Mystery is prioritized over views to the interior. The skin is pulled back or punctured in a handful of moments to permit daylight.