To serve as a gateway building, the Mulin Sculpture Studio at Occidental College captures both the harmonious nature of the Occidental campus and the spirit and utility of a flexible industrial studio. In drawing together both context and program, the sculpture studio resonates with a synergy of technology and environment.
In drawing together features of the site and the demands of the program, Hodgetts + Fung developed a vocabulary appropriate to the task. Characterizing the design as, "Collegiate," yet not overtly institutional, so that students and faculty alike would recognize the building as a place for physical rather than cerebral activity.
A pragmatic use of materials established a straightforward hierarchy: strong and impact-resistant below, where students wheel steel angles and welding equipment; fragile and light-filled above, where daylight is admitted to studio spaces. The pitched roof and stucco bands reference the existing campus, while the building's concrete block and workable plywood surfaces resist the wear and abuse wrought by students.
The Occidental Art Department required flexible studio space for exhibitions, instruction, and student activities. To accommodate these needs, the building diverges at one end to form an open-air work/exhibit court. The resultant communal space serves to both buffer and unite the disparate functional requirements. A system of grand sliding doors introduced the leitmotif of transformation, echoing the students' industry and creativity.