The internationally renowned Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA) has chosen to bring together its various sites at the former production location of the Tin Lizzie, one of the world’s all-time best-selling cars. Following an extensive two-phase renovation and new construction project, Forbes Magazine now ranks the CIA in Ohio among the top ten most beautiful study institutions in the US. GKD – GEBR. KUFFERATH AG, global market leader for architectural fabric, also made an important contribution to this. Indeed, the 150 square meter transparent MEDIAMESH® screen that has been installed can be seen from great distances. It displays student works, including both static and moving images, that provide a face for the Institute’s mission of Learn – Design – Inspire.
The state of Ohio in the US Midwest is often considered the home of famous visionaries. It is the birthplace of such pioneers as the Wright brothers and Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon. Thomas Alva Edison also found great inspiration in his home town, among other things for the invention of the light bulb. Clark Gable, Steven Spielberg and a total of seven US presidents all launched their career here. With the Cleveland Institute of Art, which was originally constructed in 1882 as the Western Reserve School of Design for women and has borne its current name since 1949, Ohio is also home to one of the most famous art and design schools in the US. In 1956, it then relocated to a new building on the East Boulevard, opposite today’s Cleveland Museum of Art, and named it after its then president, George Gund. In the course of expansion, in 1981 the CIA set up a second location in the assembly facility built by Ford in Euclid Avenue. This new location could hardly have been more authentic for aspiring industrial designers. It was immediately renamed the Joseph McCullough Center for the Visual Arts.
Architectural feel-good concept
The renovation of this building in 2010, by which time it was looking rather old and in need of a facelift, marked the start of a comprehensive structural modernisation strategy. After more than a quarter of a century of teaching at multiple sites, the CIA decided to bring together its local institutes at a location where Ford once assembled its Model T. In 2013, the foundation stone was then laid for the new George Gund II building, developed by Stantec Architects. This new building forms a unit with the existing McCullough building. In just 18 months, a four-storey annex boasting 7,340 square metres of floor space was created. The new building blends in gently with the architecture of the historic industrial building, while at the same time reinterpreting it in a modern style. With its completion, the CIA’s maxim of One Campus where everyone could be together became a reality. The light-flooded Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Atrium, which has become a vibrant place for exchange, relaxation and celebrations, forms the central link between the old and new university buildings. With the Peter B. Lewis Theater, the $65.5 million new building is also home to the Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque, which is famous throughout the US. Two galleries, a café, various university administration offices and the American Greetings Welcome Center also help bring culture and art together under one roof in the new building. They form the framework for the teaching rooms, which are fitted with state-of-the-art equipment, as well as studios and workshops that offer students optimum study conditions. Open-plan internal structures, excellent acoustics, as well as effective and flexible usage of light characterise the “feel-good” concept of the architecture, which was carefully considered right down to the last detail.
Sustainable cultural ambassador
Although not actually registered for LEED certification, the construction concept is based on the same strict assessment criteria in terms of material selection, resources, energy efficiency, as well as the quality of the interiors, innovations and overall design. A 250 square meter green roof, more than 300 solar panels, as well as natural lighting with room-height latticed windows on all four stories help make the building a comfortable, productive and pleasant place to spend time. These same functional stipulations also governed the MEDIAMESH® display on the west façade. The transparent metallic fabric screen with integrated LED profiles allows a lot of daylight into the university’s rooms, while also providing an unrestricted outward view from inside the building. The energy-efficient system is virtually maintenance-free and, thanks to its purist design, meets the strict aesthetic requirements of both customer and architect. For example, the sophisticated yet minimalistic construction blends into the background rather than seeking to steal attention away from the façade, while still contributing to its unmistakable character. Four panels – each measuring 4 x 9.3 meters – form a bright display that serves as a presentation platform for student works during the day and at night. With its 71,680 pixels, the 150 square meter screen guarantees crystal-clear display of graphics, photos and also video clips. This is the kind of perfect performance that surely would have lit up Thomas Alva Edison’s face. For Grafton J. Nunes, President of the Cleveland Institute of Art, the display reflects the Institute of Art’s new energy and has therefore become an important communication channel between students and the general public. Inspired by the MEDIAMESH® installations at the New York Port Authority bus station and the American Airlines Arena in Miami, he was therefore keen to have this system installed at the CIA. Unlike these heavily frequented locations, however, the MEDIAMESH® in Ohio does not display any commercial advertising. Instead, it employs inspiring images to showcase the CIA’s creative culture.