Charles Rose Architects

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Atlantic Center for the Arts

Leeper Studio Complex

New Smyrna Beach, FL  USA

Commissioned by: Atlantic Center for the Arts

Scope: Studios for dance, drama, painting, sculpture, music, writing; a black-box theater; library and dining hall; spaces support a renowned artists-residency program in a dense ecological preserve.

Two chief impulses guided our early design work: to create a strong sense of immersion in nature and to create spaces that would foster conversations among artists from various disciplines. The jungle-like landscape was a natural collaborator in our design. To create the sense of immersion that we envisioned, we embedded the studios into the lush vegetation and then wove together the pavilions by constructing a boardwalk that sits just two and a half feet off the forest floor. The boardwalk opens into decks expands in areas and becomes a space for new connections and collaboration.

The studio buildings are highly attuned to the tropical environment and use several strategies to mediate the intense heat, sun and humidity. Expansive glass walls, for example, maximize northern light; wood louvers lessen the effects of direct sunlight.

Materials: Cedar siding; epoxy-coated steel curbs, light posts and trellises; mahogany windows; copper roofs; poured-in-place concrete; glass

Completed: 1997

Cost: $3,300,000

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