SANTA MONICA—The architecture firm Grimshaw announced on Monday, June 1 plans for a new 21,000 square-foot arts complex, described as a “factory of creativity,” for Santa Monica College.
The new arts facility will be located on the corner of Pico Boulevard and 14th Street and will replace an existing parking lot. In a press release, Grimshaw describes the building as having, “an industrial aesthetic yet elegant in its detailing” that aims to become the new western gateway for the SMC.
In the design, Grimshaw indicates function over discipline was prioritized to create “three distinct volumes that are linked through external, shaded areas providing ample opportunities for informal teaching and gathering in open-air weather-protected courtyards.” The three volumes of the building correspond to the three pillars of an arts education: studios, teaching spaces, and workshops. Each volume of the building is not designated to a specific department; rather departments will utilize all three volumes.
Industrial screens connect the three volumes and will serve as the “backdrop for the life of the building: the artwork.” Students will decide how to exhibit art on these screens throughout the complex, while the design of the building’s skin is intended to create changing lighting conditions for the displayed art.
Managing Partner of Grimshaw’s L.A. studio said, “We are excited to work with such a supportive college to create this landmark building for the community.”
Grimshaw also indicated the design of the building is conscientious of the urban surroundings and single-home families nearby. The arts complex will be built away from the property line with a landscaped buffer to help with ambient noise.
Grimshaw Architects is an award-winning firm based in London, with studios in seven cities throughout the world. In 2019, 57 percent of their projects across the U.S., U.K., and Australia were college or universities and intends to bring their expertise in sustainability, adaptability, and renewal to bring a “vibrant, enriching, environment [to] Santa Monica College.”
Santa Monica College is a community college founded in 1928 that currently enrolls over 30,000. SMC ranks number one in transfers to the University of California college system for the past 28 years and number one in transfers to USC, UCLA, and LMU. SMC offers three art degrees, an Associate in Arts Degree, an Associate in Arts for Transfer in Studio Arts, and an Associate in Arts for Transfer in Art History.
Grimshaw’s press release states SMC graduates are recruited and earn scholarships at top art and art history programs across the country including UCLA, Berkeley, and the Chicago Art Institute among many others.
The project’s architect of record will be Little Diversified Architectural Consulting and The Architect’s Newspaper reports construction is slated to begin in 2022, with an opening scheduled for the academic year of 2024.
Chair of SMC’s Art Department Walter Meyer said in a statement, “The adaptable design of the new SMC arts complex will bolster our mission to bring students together to gain a greater exposure to the potential of the art program. Grimshaw shares our belief in the importance of a robust arts education and we are thrilled to see it come to life.”