A New Home for Visual Arts at Art Center


Photo of the new Fine Arts and Illustration facility

(Pasadena, Calif.) June 19, 2014 — In 2014, 870 South Raymond Avenue became the new home for Art Center’s Fine Art and Illustration departments—and a thriving collaborative nucleus for the visual arts. This former U.S. Postal Service property has alleviated overcrowding on the College’s Hillside campus, expanded Art Center’s educational reach and resources, and helped transform South Campus from a “satellite” location to a full-fledged campus.

Art Center will officially celebrate the successful opening of a new home for visual arts on Thursday, June 19 at 6:30 p.m. College leadership will offer a few remarks with special recognition from several government officials. Following the ceremony, renovation architect Darin Johnstone will lead tours of the building, featuring a special exhibition/installation by his firm Darin Johnstone Architecture (djA) and showcasing work by Art Center students and faculty.

“Developing new spaces for learning—both in the physical and virtual sense—is a key focus of Art Center’s strategic plan; but only in as much as it enhances the quality of the education we can offer,” said Art Center President Lorne M. Buchman. “In creating this new homebase for our Illustration and Fine Art students we have indeed added to the vibrancy of our campus community, which will no doubt expand the learning opportunities available to our students—and we couldn’t be happier.”

“Over time, the needs of our students and our curriculum have changed dramatically. Dedicated spaces for making and viewing artworks is essential,” said Fred Fehlau, provost. “This new space enables us to expand and develop our programs while enhancing our capacity for teaching, learning, creating and collaborating. In doing so, we ensure that Art Center is able to fulfill its mission as a college and its promise to students now and into the future.”

The facility also provides opportunities for Art Center to strengthen engagement with diverse communities because of the proximity of the campus to public transportation and the continued presence of Art Center’s Public Programs, offering ongoing education for all ages.

A key feature of the 35,000 square foot building—on track to meet LEED Silver Certification standards, maximizing energy and water efficiency, and indoor environmental quality—is the abundance of natural light. What was once a dark, dated sorting and distribution center is now a bright, open space for learning and creativity. The building also boasts several formal and informal gallery spaces, private studios for students, seminar rooms and computer labs and, in the near future, an outdoor sculpture yard and printmaking studio. Another highlight of the building is efficiently controlled fluorescent lighting contributed by alumnus Scott Yu (BS 82) through his company, Vode, which designs adaptive architectural lighting systems.

“The amount of space for galleries, classrooms and offices needed to educate Art Center’s young visual artists filled the entire building’s existing volume. At the same time most of the spaces still required an abundance of natural light,” Johnstone explained. “We identified a few key areas of natural light within the existing building that we termed ‘light courts’ and attempted to use the building program to open them up. Formal galleries and circulation areas—themselves conceived of as informal gallery spaces—were used to connect all of these ‘light courts,’ effectively carving the mass of classrooms, studios and offices with light.”

“As both an architect and educator, Darin was especially aware and conversant of the challenges we faced in renovating the 870 building within an incredibly tight schedule,” said George Falardeau, senior vice president of Real Estate and Operations. “Darin and his entire team worked closely with our director of Real Estate and Campus Planning, Rollin Homer, as well as other Art Center administrators and they all exceeded expectations on all fronts. Everyone in the community is in awe of the building’s transformation.”

“The renovated building and our efforts to enliven that industrial portion of Pasadena has enjoyed great support from City officials and the community at large,” Falardeau added.

In addition to seeing the work of current Art Center students and faculty, attendees will have an opportunity to further explore the work of Darin Johnstone Architecture through a series of drawings (Drawn Out: Didactic to Haptic) and an installation (Light Mass)—both created by djA—that will be on view. Of the museum-quality display, Johnstone said, “For this exhibit a two part drawing series and an installation was conceived to reflect upon the original design approach while deepening and extending the architect’s understanding of the building. The drawings move from programmatic to projective and the installation is intended to work as a drawing and an object simultaneously. The entire piece is a projection of multiple outcomes and a rumination on presence.”

Fueled by a commitment to support the next generation of artists and designers, acquisition of the property was made possible in large part by three seven-figure alumni gifts—from Richard Law (MS 58), Steven Rieman (BS 74) and his wife, Ruth, and Bruce Heavin (BA 93) and his wife, former Art Center faculty member Lynda Weinman—followed by a $1 million grant from the Ralph M. Parsons Foundation. Renovation of the building received lead funding in the form of $500,000 grants from the Fletcher Jones Foundation, Hutto-Patterson Charitable Foundation and The Rose Hills Foundation.

Art Center College of Design
Founded in 1930 and located in Pasadena, California, Art Center College of Design (artcenter.edu) is a global leader in art and design education. Art Center offers 11 undergraduate and six graduate degrees in a wide variety of visual and applied arts as well as industrial design disciplines. In addition to its top-ranked academic programs, the College also serves members of the Greater Los Angeles region through a highly regarded series of year-round educational programs for all ages and levels of experience. Renowned for both its ties to industry and its social impact initiatives, Art Center is the first design school to receive the United Nations’ Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) status. Throughout the College’s long and storied history, Art Center alumni have had a profound impact on popular culture, the way we live and important issues in our society.