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Whitcomb Art Center in winter


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Knox's New Art Building Wins Awards

Whitcomb Art Center receives honors from American Institute of Architects & Metal Architecture magazine

January 11, 2018

Whitcomb Art Center in winter

Knox College's Whitcomb Art Center continues to win awards for its innovative design and construction.

The $8.6 million art facility and its designer, Lake|Flato Architects, recently received a 2017 Honor Award from the American Institute of Architects, San Antonio chapter.

The center, which opened last January, also won a 2017 Metal Architecture Design Award from Metal Architecture magazine, while the facility's general contractor, P.J. Hoerr of Peoria, won a "Master Builder of the Year" award for 2017 from Star Building Systems.

"These distinguished awards for the Whitcomb Art Center are richly deserved recognition for the architect, Lake|Flato, and the builder, P.J. Hoerr, and all the craftspeople who worked on the design and construction," said Knox College President Teresa Amott.

"The awards confirm what Knox students and visitors are experiencing—that this is one of the most exciting new art facilities today," Amott said. "The awards also confirm something 'behind the scenes'—that the Whitcomb Art Center is an extremely efficient and economical academic building."

The 30,000-square-foot building houses teaching and studio space for art and art history, including painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, ceramics, photography, metal and wood working.

The AIA award judges said the Whitcomb Art Center merited the Honor Award, the chapter's highest award, because the "pre-engineered metal building provides optimal structural performance using a minimal quantity of steel."

The award panel also noted how Knox's "studio art and art history departments are consolidated into a daylit modern building anchored by a native-landscaped courtyard." The Honor Award was one of four awards Lake|Flato received at the 2017 AIA San Antonio People + Place Awards ceremony on November 29 in San Antonio, Texas.

"It was a true honor and a lot of fun to collaborate with Knox and its art department to design this special place," said Lewis McNeel of Lake|Flato. "These awards reflect the hard work we all put into crafting a building that embodies the unique spirit of Knox's incredible art community. What I'm most proud of is that this building has been embraced and liked by the students and faculty who teach, learn, and make art in it every day."

The Metal Architecture Design Award judges cited benefits of the metal building system used for the Whitcomb Art Center.

The exterior ribbed wall panels "give a greater sense of depth to the building," wrote Paul Deffenbaugh, editorial director of Metal Architecture magazine. "Large windows [enable] anyone approaching from the campus [to] see deep into the building and students working on art. Corner windows [also] reveal the iconic tapered columns of a metal building system."

The design "makes the best use possible of all the resources available and lets the resources be shown off in the best way possible," McNeel said in an interview with Metal Architecture magazine.

The Whitcomb Art Center updates and consolidates resources previously housed in four other buildings on the Knox campus, including the Ford Center for the Fine Arts, which is now used exclusively for music, theatre and dance programs. The center is named in honor of Dick '57 and Joan Whitney Whitcomb '56 lead donors the building. Their $5 million gift is the largest gift from living donors in Knox College's 177-year history.

Below: printmaking, photography and graphic design classes in the Whitcomb Art Center.

View more photos of the Whitcomb Art Center:

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Art class in the Whitcomb Art Center at Knox College

#AIA: "Optimal structural performance using minimal quantity of steel"

Art history class in the Whitcomb Art Center at Knox College.

#Art history class in the Whitcomb Art Center

Drawing class in the Whitcomb Art Center at Knox College.

#Architect: new art center "makes the best use possible of all the resources available"

Sculpture class in the Whitcomb Art Center at Knox College.

#Professor Mark Holmes with students in sculpture studio

Knox College

Printed on Saturday, February 23, 2019