Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Center proposes new headquarters

Ketchum facility exhibits progressive contemporary design

Express Staff Writer

A major advancement for the future of Ketchum's arts scene was unveiled Friday as Sun Valley Center for the Arts staff displayed architectural designs for its new home on Second Avenue.

"This is a big day for us," said Sun Valley Center Executive Director Sam Gappmayer. "The building is a progressive contemporary design that's a reflection of the heritage of the area and it's location."

Also attending the meeting were The Center's Board President Trina Peters, and board member and chairman of the building committee Tom Swift.

The building is planned be built on property currently owned by the Simplot family in West Ketchum, across from the Ketchum Post Office. There are four main lots of varying size on the Simplot property. Three are on the east side of the area facing the post office, and one larger lot sits behind those to the west. The northwest corner lot at Fourth Street and Second Avenue is the one the Center's board is currently in the process of raising money to purchase. The city's Fourth Street Heritage Corridor would run just past the new building.

The other lots on Second Avenue are zoned for mixed-use, while the larger lot behind is residential.

"In this process we've worked very closely with the Simplot family, who are interested in maintaining the views," Gappmayer said. "They are very hands-on about who'll they'll work with."

The Center has submitted its application for approval to the Ketchum Planning and Zoning Commission. The new facility would replace The Center's current home on Fifth Street and supplement its house and classroom building in Hailey.

The proposed building is 42,000 square feet, with 25,000 of that above-ground museum space, offices, and an auditorium that would seat 240 people. It will feature reclaimed brick, lots of glass on the street level, and a second floor wrap-around wooden sunscreen with operable shutters to let in light and air. Its angled roof mimics the slopes of the mountains behind to draw the eye upward. The building would be built using as much "sustainable" material as fiscally possible.

The building was designed by award-winning Seattle architect Tom Kundig of Olsen Sundberg Kundig Allen. He is considered a rising star in the architectural world. His firm has designed other cultural facilities, including major renovations of the Seattle Asian Art Museum and the Frye Art Museum. Kundig, who has been a lifelong visitor to Sun Valley, has also designed residences in Sun Valley.

"We developed a laundry list of things we wanted," Gappmayer said. "We wanted a gathering place, a place to come and experience the arts and be together in that context. We wanted to be able to have small concerts here."

Another of the key concepts in the building's design is its flexibility. The gallery walls are designed to be movable so that curators can rearrange them to suit their vision for each exhibit. If all the walls are stacked together to open up the space, there would be 4,000 square feet of museum space.

"People passing by will see an ever-changing, intriguing internal landscape," said Marketing Director Kristine Bretall.

"There is an element of theater to the design. It is clear and apparent that this is a civic building that people will want to visit," said Director of Development Sally Boettger. "It will be open six days a week, with evening hours. People can come enjoy the views, sit outside and take advantage of our refreshment cart. We envision partnering with local business to do this."

Among the key features of the two-story, 25,000-square-foot building are:

- Museum-quality exhibition space—a main gallery, plus two smaller gallery spaces.

· A state-of-the-art auditorium with seating for lectures, films, small concerts and other modest-scale performances, but not a producing theater.

- 1,652 square feet of modern classroom spaces that support The Center's educational mission.

- A public resource center with computer workstations, children's art activities, interactive learning tools and access to program archives.

- An attractively landscaped park-like outdoor area that would accommodate sculpture, small performances and outdoor films, and also provide room for classes to work directly from nature.

- Office space to house employees for the foreseeable future.

- Ample lobby space for gatherings and receptions with tables, chairs and light refreshments.

- An underground parking garage.

Groundbreaking on the new facility could happen as early as 2008, but timing is dependent on the city of Ketchum's approval process and The Center's fund-raising success. The Center is working with Wilson Construction for construction services. Sfingi Group will serve as its project manager.

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