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Weathered Masses

 

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. 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 provides a connection between primitive, resultant, and considered atmosphere within an urban context.

Title

Riverwalk Artist Studios

Location

Columbus, GA, United States

Size

50,000 ft²

Date

2020

Faculty

Justin Miller

Typology

Studio  ·  Landscape  ·  Masterplan

Auburn University  ·  Studio X

Institution

Thesis Book Award

Award

HS_RWS_Map_Columbus

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. 

Program

 

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. 

Siting

The site is traversed by a set of overlapping paths, each catering to a different type of visitor. 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. The subdued material palette is locally sourced from the Auburn, Opelika, Columbus metropolitan area. The studios project into the river, providing a node around which visitors can gather. The overhang provides protection for pedestrians and the launch directly engages the river.

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The subdued material palette is locally sourced from the Auburn, Opelika, Columbus metropolitan area. 

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Materials and techniques were implemented which mature over time.