Physical Poetry: Tom Kundig
Photography courtesy Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects
(page 3 of 3)
Tomorrow: Designing a town center
In June 2005, in a move that would look prescient, the Sun Valley Center for the Arts (The Center) selected Kundig to design its new home in the Wood River Valley.
Kundig was thrilled. “I’ve been coming to the area since 1962, and Sun Valley has always been a very special place for me. So when The Center call came, it was exciting not only on a personal level, but because we had the chance to build a true civic center for the town.”
The concept of a town nucleus is the essence of what both The Center and their architect are after. Traditionally, towns are built around a central hub such as a courthouse, a city park, or a landmark civic building. But what anchors Ketchum? What defines it? Where can the community gather in a place that is centrally located, open, welcoming and free of charge?
“Ketchum has always been trying to find the center of its village,” noted Kundig. “This new arts building, along with the post office, is a significant step in anchoring that identity.”
The plan that sprang to life on his drawing board is a 22,500-square-foot facility in weathered steel, concrete and wood. At street level, the building is nearly transparent, sheathed in sixteen-foot glass windows that let passersby see in—and curators, artists and museum-goers see out. The line between art and people is purposefully thin, an invitation to viewers both inside and out to interact and engage.
The Center’s second level—the refuge to the exhibition floor’s prospect—is screened by wide wooden-slatted panels that provide shelter and shade. The building’s cozier spaces, including meeting rooms, offices and a learning lounge, are found here.
Currently, The Center is in the midst of a capital campaign to raise funds for its ambitious new building. But not long from now, there will be a welcoming beacon of light and energy on the corner of Second Avenue and Fourth Street. And the Valley will have a Center that will help shape our identity as a community going forward, a true town center at last.