Integrus Architecture’s Wenatchee Valley College Music & Arts Center was one of two projects to receive the AIA Washington Council’s 2013 Civic Design Award – Honor, the highest accolade for public works in Washington State. A year later, we asked the Principal-in-Charge of Design, Mark Dailey, AIA to reflect on aspects of the project that stood out.
As principal-in-charge of design for Integrus, Mr. Mark Dailey has been responsible for the design of many of the firm’s most successful projects. His talent, design sensitivity, and desire to continue the firm’s history of moderne-rooted architecture has translated into building designs that have won dozens of National, Regional, Local, and Trade awards. Focusing mostly on Public Works architecture, including higher education and civic/government buildings such as libraries and U.S. Embassies, Mark’s belief in and affinity for the principles of moderne architecture remain as core values today at Integrus. This admiration for moderne design is a natural seque into Mark’s belief in simple and functional buildings void of unnecessary ornament that are unique to a certain place and time.
Mark holds a Bachelor and Master of Architecture from Montana State University and is licensed in Idaho, Indiana, Montana, North Carolina, and Washington. He is an active member on the Montana State University Architectural Advisory Council and the American Institute of Architects. Mark’s professional background and expertise has provided him with opportunities to critique and contribute to University architectural programs, AIA programs, serve as juror for awards programs, and speak at educational and industry conferences.
AIA/WA What was your role at Integrus Architecture on the Wenatchee Valley College Music and Arts Center?
Mark Dailey, AIA Principal-in-Charge of Design
The Gallery could be a beautiful project in its own right: sculpted extrusions, careful detailing, etc. At what point did those factors come together and integrate with the project’s larger context?
We realized early in the schematic process there was a desire by the owner for a more secure and featured space to display student work and work from visiting artists in the building’s public entry area. Creating a smaller gallery ‘box’ that was placed within the building’s main lobby volume was a way to not only feature the space but use it as an important element in the overall composition of this important ‘knuckle’. Creating a sensitively proportioned and functional volume that over time would patina like a fine sculpture was an idea embraced by the college. The hot-rolled steel cladding will change in tone and texture as the building ages adding richness to the building’s exterior skin. The Gallery’s large pivoting door that opens into the lobby space was a somewhat whimsical move that was intended to reinforce the idea that this gallery space was in the end still a very simple ‘box’, the door was intentionally detailed exactly as the siding on the walls to help convey that idea. We are happy to report that this space and the pivoting door in particular are very popular among the building’s faculty and students which is rewarding.
Lighting (especially natural light) plays a vital role throughout the project but surprisingly in the recital hall space’s acoustic “gills.” How did the gills’s design process come about?
We felt some form of diffused daylight would enhance the mood and overall experience of the recital hall and the Music program enthusiastically agreed. We didn’t however feel that direct sunlight or vision glass directly to the exterior would be appropriate in this particular orientation. The relationship between the intentionally large compositional ‘cut-out’ in the exterior of the brick recital hall box and the desire to bring slots of natural light through acoustically shaped ‘gills’ in this location seemed like a very natural way to blend form and function. We were able to achieve light, color, texture, and acoustical performance with one large but fairly simple move. At the same time this reinforced the overriding theme that this Music and Art building was itself an artistic and sculptural composition that should be uniquely informed by the very programs it housed.
Given the complex project parameters (sustainability, site preservation, functional needs, etc.) how responsive was Wenatchee Valley College throughout the overall process? Did any surprises emerge in your discussions?
The College was very supportive and responsive to what we were hoping to accomplish and very much understood the unique opportunity this building type and site offered. Early in the process there was concern from the community about placing this building in the beloved park-like setting of the original Well’s House property (original property gifted to campus). The college did a wonderful job of informing the community of the future benefits this location for the building could provide. They helped the community understand that great care was being taken to sensitively place the building between existing specimen trees, planting of new trees, and strategically aligning the building’s axis and main lobby window wall to frame views of the historic Well’s House to the north. This orientation has paid appropriate homage to the historic building and site as well as providing greater attention to the importance of Well’s House and fund raising efforts for future renovation work. The design goals for the new Music and Art Building were not only directly related to benefitting the programs, but indirectly benefitting the overall campus and community as well. I wouldn’t necessarily call it a surprise but it’s been very satisfying to see the community embrace the building and appreciate that it has enhanced not only the campus but this important site.
Are there any upcoming projects that both you and Integrus Architecture are particularly excited about this year?
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Yes, we have a number of exciting projects finishing up and currently on the boards this year that provide great design opportunities as well as diversity and unique project type, some of those projects include:
- U.S. Embassy in Nouakchott, Mauritania (West coast of Africa)
- Whitworth University, Music Building Renovation and Addition
- Juanita High School, Lake Washington School District
- Vashon Island High School