When Darin Johnstone Architects designed the Bruce Heavin and Lynda Weinman Alumni Center for Pasadena’s ArtCenter College of Design, the team found inspiration for two standout features – a dazzling glass curtain wall in a colour gradient and a massive interactive screen – among the school’s alumni. The glass curtain wall separates the conference centre and lounge from the elevator lobby and incorporates the school’s iconic motif: an oversized dot.
To establish the tonal field for the translucent colour-screened film applied to the glass, the team referred to the poster for the classic 1966 surfing doc The Endless Summer, a vibrant design by ArtCenter grad John Van Hamersveld that captures the “sunny, vibrant and diverse culture” of Southern California. “Once we established the concept, we worked through many versions of basic colour field and letter form iterations,” Darin Johnstone explains. “When the basic artwork was set, we self-printed many full-size iterations to establish the correct screen pattern and exact colour palette.” His firm then worked with the printer and installer Coloredge to establish the ideal material, printing and installation process.
In the Alumni Gallery space, DJA designed a 7.6-by-2.4-metre digital touchscreen programmed with an interactive virtual gallery of works by distinguished alumni through the decades. The starting point in the curation came from “an amazing set of books” conceived by graphic designer Kit Hinrichs, a 1963 grad. Early on in the process, the team began to work with the collective Downstream, which designed the digital interface and the technical integration.
They then brought on technology integrators Mtek to install the piece. “In some ways, this one component embodies the spirit of the college. Certainly, it captures the work of alumni across time and space, but the design and implementation of the element also required collaboration through the college across disciplines: architecture, graphic design, interface design, engineering and more,” Johnstone says.
These features constitute only two aspects of DJA’s larger redesign of the South Arroyo building, ArtCenter’s newest South Campus addition. The team transformed four of six floors, renovating nearly 585 square metres altogether, in a former office building from the 1980s. The Alumni Center stands out, however, for what the firm achieved graphically with glass.