The FAR Center for Contemporary Arts, located in the vibrant mid-western city of Bloomington, Indiana serves as the relocation of Pictura Gallery, a nationally recognized center for photography and education, and expands the gallery's mission to foster creative collaboration and education. Malane Benedetto's design of the art center re-purposes an existing historic structure, located in the Bloomington Entertainment & Arts District (BEAD), from a vacant storage facility into a rich cultural complex. A modest new addition connects four distinct spaces; the new Pictura Gallery home, a multi-purpose theatre & art exhibition space, a library & education room, and a garden. Construction will be complete in October 2018.
Project Team: Lead Designers - Lauren Bordes & Evan Cerilli; Project Architect - Puzzello Architecture Practice; General Contractor - Foursquare Construction
The design of Pictura Gallery's new home places careful emphasis on all surfaces of the space dedicated to exhibiting art. Floor, wall, window, and ceiling treatments were considered in terms of the future artform, primarily photography. Natural and artificial light are carefully balanced to minimize glare and to create an optimal viewing experience. The design of the ceiling's subtle arched coffer system quotes the grand geometry of the existing building's original steel bow trusses (featured in the image of the theatre shown below) to playfully soften the scale of the overall gallery space.
The Theatre at FAR is both magestic and unembellished. This space was constructed in the 1920s as a grocery store and features the building's original steel bow trusses, wood ceiling and utility brick walls. Little design was required, however, the Theatre acquired a new concrete floor, a full-height feature wall for large-scale exhibition and performance, and all new lighting and HVAC. These essential updates maintain the space's historic qualities while creating a blank slate for the display of all forms of contemporary art.
The Library at FAR is a precious space dedicated to the education of the arts. Central to the FAR founders' mission, a forum for creative discussion and gathering lends meaning to the experience of viewing art in the gallery setting. The Library is the space of artist talks, community workshops, student readings, small ensemble performances and more. The original preserved steel windows cast a warm glow into the intimate space adorned with artisan plaster walls and chevron wood flooring. These rich details transform the space into a "living room" for the public.
The Garden at FAR is framed by the building's existing brick facade and the new anthra-zinc clad addition. It is positioned as an exterior space of both meditation and gathering. In the near future, plantings will adorn the outdoor trellis to provide a softened, shaded area just beside the curated interior environments.