Newsletter Subscription
Print Subscription
Change Address
Art Project
Michael Maltzan to design Art Center expansion in Pasadena.
A former post office building on the school's South Campus will be refurbished.
Courtesy Art Center College of Design

Still basking in the glow of its recent St. Petersburg Pier competition win, Michael Maltzan Architecture yesterday won yet another commission: to expand and renovate Art Center College of Design’s hillside campus in Pasadena, to refurbish a former post office building on the school’s south campus, and to oversee a master plan for the entire institution.

Other firms on the shortlist were Behnisch Architekten, Barton Myers Associates, and Krueck + Sexton.

“I won’t be bored,” said Maltzan, referring to a wealth of new projects coming to his Los Angeles office, including the ambitious $50 million renovation of St. Petersburg’s Pier called “The Lens,” and the new Mashouf Performing Arts Center at San Francisco State University.  “We feel very lucky. Now everything just needs to get moving,” he added.

The renovation of Craig Ellwood’s iconic 1976 glass and steel building in the hills above Pasadena will include reshaping and expanding the academic building, updating it seismically, installing new sustainable energy systems, and improving its roofing and glazing systems.

Entrance to Art Center College's South Campus located in a former wind tunnel in downtown Pasadena (left) and the school's iconic Craig Ellwood building in its Hillside Campus (right).

But before that work is even mapped out Maltzan will develop an “Academic Master Plan” for the campus, re-thinking how the college uses its facilities to adapt to new technologies and to inter-disciplinary education models. Maltzan will also oversee the organization of buildings and public spaces on the hillside and the rapidly-expanding south campus in downtown Pasadena. The first step in that plan, said Maltzan, is to “spend a lot of time with the art center community: students, faculty, administration and alumni. The information we get from that will be a big part of how we move forward,” he said.

Leading off the south campus expansion Maltzan will design the reuse of an existing post office mail distribution center at 870 S. Raymond Ave, adjacent to Daly Genik’s reuse of an existing wind tunnel facility, which was completed for the school in 2004. The program for the poured concrete postal building has not been finalized, but it’s likely that the 35,000 square foot space, which sits on a 2.5-acre lot, will be a center for fabrication and prototyping.

The post office property is expected to be ready for classes by Fall 2013, but a final budget and timeline for all the projects has not yet been finalized, said school president Lorne Buchman. Art Center will pay for much of the work with proceeds from a recent bond issue, and will be launching a major capital campaign to pay off that debt. Nearly five million of the seven million dollar cost to purchase the post office building came from alumni donations, added Buchman.

Buckman was sure to add that, “whatever we do building-wise is serving the school’s educational mission.” Buchman’s predecessor Richard Koshalek was reportedly pushed out after factions within the school felt he was focusing more on architecture than on education. Frank Gehry had been working to design a $45 million design research complex on the hillside campus until that plan was scratched in 2009. That plan had originally called for a number of new buildings by Gehry and Alvaro Siza, but was scaled down.

Sam Lubell