The client is an artist who is an internationally acclaimed photographer. His work is physically monumental in scale as well as content, navigating topics that are both political and aesthetic; his art is collected and exhibited by museums world-wide. The Alcatraz Photography Studio provides the artist with a space within which he can design and mock-up full-scale exhibit layouts with museum-quality lighting.
The original building’s function and year of construction are lost to history; it appears about a century old. When the client purchased the property, it was being used as a costume store whose rabbit/warren rooms obscured the structural system and materials of the original building. The design exposes and seismically upgrades the building’s masonry shell and gable roof, creating a lofty exhibit gallery overlooked by a mezzanine with new architectural elements made of wood salvaged from the original building.
The project’s architectural layout follows rather than resists the building’s strong symmetry. Upon entrance from the street, one arrives into the Gallery, whose axis is reinforced by a continuous ridge skylight along the centerline of the room. The skylights softly diffuse natural light throughout the space. At the opposite end of the double height Gallery is a new stair, also centered on the ridge axis, leading to the Mezzanine. The Mezzanine overlooks the main Gallery and contains an open office for staff and seating areas for visitors. Below the Mezzanine and beyond the Gallery are utility areas such as storage rooms, a library, kitchenette, bathroom, and a long table of recycled wood for dining and working. At the rear wall, an existing door opening leads to an urban garden.
The materials used for the project’s architectural elements, flooring, and furniture make use of salvaged wood, much of which is obtained from deconstructing parts of the original building. This use of recycled and highly local materials not only embraces the many positive characteristics of wood as a material including low embodied energy, low carbon impact, and sustainability, but also helps achieve the architectural sensibility that the client and architect envisioned. Recycled wood, existing un-reinforced brick, and new steel braces for seismic upgrade form the palette of architectural and structural materials in the project.
The structure is exposed to create a spatially dramatic context for, but not visually overwhelm the exhibited art. The resulting welcoming nature of the space can sit in productive but marked contrast to the subject matter of the artist’s work. For example, one of his recent exhibit mock-ups consisted of photography documenting environmental ravages resulting from industrialization, natural disasters, petrochemical manufacturing, and weapons testing. The space within the gallery provides a striking juxtaposition of architectural sustainability alongside the art’s unflinching depictions of reality.
The materials used for the project’s architectural elements, flooring, and furniture make use of much of the wood salvaged from deconstructing parts of the original building. This use of recycled and highly local materials not only embraces the many positive characteristics of wood as a material including low embodied energy, low carbon impact, and sustainability, but also helps achieve the architectural sensibility that the client and architect envisioned. Recycled wood, existing un-reinforced brick, and new steel braces for seismic upgrade form the palette of architectural and structural materials in the project. The structure is exposed to create a spatially dramatic context for, but not visually overwhelm the exhibited art.
The original building was a modest gable-roofed- “shoebox” of unreinforced brick masonry (URM) walls, a wood second floor and a wood roof structure, constructed in the first half of the 20th Century. The structural resistance of the original URM walls to earthquake was woefully inadequate, and whatever seismic value existed from that construction was reliant upon what the intermediate floor and roof could provide. To strengthen the shell: (1) Internally exposed steel framing and bracing were installed in the planes of URM brick walls; (2) Structural shear diaphragms were provided at the new Mezzanine and the existing roof. The wood framed mezzanine built using wood salvaged from the deconstruction of the original building provides, both, functional floor area and an intermediate-height shear diaphragm with steel braces, working with the wood structure to form a hybrid structural system.
The structural engineer determined that the salvaged wood was, in fact, recycled wood that was harvested from the building itself. There was no visible damage and/or degradation (i.e. termites, dry-rot etc.) It was calculated that these “2x8 salvaged wood joists” had enough strength and stiffness to support the mezzanine loads. The quotation marks for “2x8 salvaged wood joists” indicate that the actual dimensions of the members were full-dimensioned, predating modern sizes.
Wood is the dominant material in the roof structural system (trusses and shear diaphragm) as well as in the newly constructed mezzanine and recycled wood stair. The fir and redwood materials salvaged from the original building are about a century old. They are beautiful as exposed finishes – retained by design as a testament to the endurance of wood. The original wood flooring presented an opportunity, as recognized by the owner, for enriching the rejuvenated character of the space. A simple treatment to the floor is executed, using non-toxic floor cleaner and finish products. As observed by the artist-client: “The wood floor is full of amazing colors, subtle and strong from years of paint drips, to the recent random reconfiguration from re-installation. It has a unique character, a history, that seems to only need being mopped or washed well and then finished. This is quite unique and beautiful…”
Material Used :
1. Franke – kitchen faucet – 9“ pull-out
2. Elkay – kitchen sink – ADA undermount 18 gauge, 29.5“
3. Kraus – bathroom lavatory – white ceramic rectangular vessel sink
4. Wood salvaged from original structure used as finishes
5. Bona – wood cleaning & finishing products
6. Lightolier – Track mounted PAR 38 gimbel ring on 6000 series one circuit track, LED, w/ cross blade louver, Solite lens, white finish
7. Ecosense – Linear LED 3000K wash light
8. TMS Lighting – Wall mounted 16”diam area light w/ gooseneck arm, 33” overall extension, forest green finish
9. Lithonia – Linear surface mounted direct LED 8’ length with integral dimmable driver, 3000K, frosted acrylic lens