Darin Johnstone Architects Transforms a 1970s Post Office Into Art Center College of Design
It makes total sense. That an art school would have prominent gallery space to showcase student talent. That was the thinking of Ann Field, the undergraduate illustration department chair at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, and architect Darin Johnstone. Since 2013, Darin Johnstone Architects has renovated four of the school’s buildings, including 870, for fine art and illustration, and 1111, for drawing and painting, both now featuring ample and accessible exhibition space.
The former is a two-story 1979 building that had previously housed a post office. DJA took advantage of its existing skylit central atrium and transformed it into the bright and airy Hutto-Patterson Exhibition Hall, which is open to the public. Newly polished concrete flooring flows through the double-height space, now connected to the clerestory above by a new stair in painted steel. Field adds layers of vibrancy with three annual shows. Recently on view was “CloverScout,” an exhibition of works by such alumni as Patrick Hruby, who has collaborated with Todd Oldham, featuring “hand-painted replicas of graphics projects that have been scaled up,” she says. The 35,000-square-foot volume also contains new classrooms, studios, and staff offices.
Nearby stands the latter, larger building, a six-floor, circa 1983 structure, and it functions as a gateway to the ACCD campus. At its ground level is the Peter and Merle Mullin Gallery, also open to the public. On the top level of the 128,000- square-foot structure are “student living rooms,” Johnstone notes, black-painted break-out areas with built-in banquettes. In between top and bottom are three additional galleries, one of which is currently exhibiting artwork by faculty member Jason Holley. Originally part of the stage design for the International Illustration Conference, it’s recreated here as a 30-foot-long, painted-wood mural. At ACCD, art is not only a multimedia affair but also a multi-venue one.
Throughout: Elite; Vode Lighting; Wac Lighting: Lighting. Glidden; PPG Industries; Sherwin-Williams Company: Paint. Luminesce Design: Lighting Consultant. BuroHappold; John A. Martin & Associates: Structural Engineers. Integral Group; PBS Engineers: MEP. GkkWorks: Project Manager. Matt Construction; Oltmans Construction: General Contractors.