University at Albany Boor Sculpture Studio 1

University at Albany Boor Sculpture Studio

Albany, NY, USA

An educational and display space that reflects and inspires creativity.

With help from a gift by artist and philanthropist Terri Boor, the University at Albany’s Art Department asked Perkins Eastman to design a structure to house its myriad sculpture programs, in addition to a lecture space and gallery, classrooms, and individual studios for its graduate students. Working closely with program director Ed Mayer and professor Roger Bisbing, the building was designed as “a laboratory for art,” organized to maximize space for making, shaping, exploring and learning.

Project Facts

  • Client:

  • State University of New York
  • Size:

  • 21,000 sf
  • Services:

  • Architecture
  • Markets:

  • Arts + Culture, Higher Education
  • Region:

  • United States
  • Studios:

  • New York
    University at Albany Boor Sculpture Studio 2

    The building is arranged with large workshop spaces—a woodshop, metal shop, clay studio, kiln, wax room, and plaster-casting—running down the center of the plan, with individual student studios on either side. Mayer and Bisbing’s experience and attention to detail was inspiring and fundamental to the process; their input was integral to the design team. Every inch of space was optimized—every piece of equipment located precisely—to maximize functionality and safety.

    “Roger built a model of the workshops with every piece of machinery to scale!” says Perkins Eastman Co-CEO and Executive Director Nick Leahy, the lead designer on the project. “It was not only a beautiful object, but it served as a fundamental design tool for the project.” The form of the building expresses the organization and hierarchy of the spaces. The materiality and tectonics were also carefully considered and developed along with the professors.

    University at Albany Boor Sculpture Studio 3

     

    Leahy continues the story:

    “As sculptors, they are finely attuned to form, composition and materiality, so their input was again key. We expressed the front-end public functions in zinc panels on the facade, and then used a manganese iron-spot brick to line the studios—we all loved the brick’s fired look and sheen. The taller workshops were clad in composite panels, with the high-bay metal shop clad in translucent Kalwall panels to allow diffuse light into the space. The interiors were kept as working studios. It really is a place to make anything, in whatever material, and with whatever process the student can think of. I always love the karma of a creative space where people are making things, and this building comes alive when students use it—it’s elevating. I know that the energy that Ed and Roger poured into getting this built right is evident throughout. We were extremely lucky to work with them.”

    University at Albany Boor Sculpture Studio 4

     

    University at Albany Boor Sculpture Studio 5

    At the building’s entry, a zinc plane floats within a double-height wall of glass, which sends volumes of natural light into the main design studio at the front of the single-story building. Its inner core of workshops, meanwhile, is lit by a series of skylights. The wood shop features industrial fans and venting to keep the space free of sawdust, while the metal shop in back contains a foundry with double-height doors and a gantry to move huge smelting crucibles and pieces of metal in and out of the building.

    University at Albany Boor Sculpture Studio 6

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    Professor Mayer offered his own take on the design in a video about the project:

    “We tried to create an inspirational environment where the tools and equipment were made available, and people were instructed in their proper and safe use, so they could carry out and express their sculptural intentions. I think it’s important for the university to have this facility. We live in a very, very visual world; people want to learn more about it—and perhaps even participate in it.”