Wellington Arts Complex+-

project name : Wellington Arts Complex

location : Wellington, Florida

year of design: 2004-2005

client: Wellington Cultural Trust

architect: George Ranalli

associates: Robert Silman Structural Engineer

design team: Kimberlae Saul, Eduardo Benamor Duarte, Yuel Lee

The Wellington Cultural Trust commissioned a master plan for an arts complex in Wellington, Florida. The complex is located on 10 acres of mature trees and rolling fields that slope toward a 99-acre lake, on one side and, woodland hiking trails on the other.

The plan embraces a harbor, lagoon, and scenic recreation amid grand stretches of green space to offer a community facility for people of all ages, social, and cultural backgrounds actively engaged with the arts. There are three theaters, two museum/gallery buildings, a parking structure, and outdoor dining and recreational facilities.

The plan explores the relationship between the buildings in the arts complex and the Florida landscape, inviting the community to discover a realm of formal geometry, simplicity, and beauty. Ground-level arts pavilion buildings, restaurants, shops, and other amenities are arranged amid a network of copper shaded footpaths. Courtyards accommodate public gatherings before and after performances, while outdoor courts are graced by sculpture. Sweeping terraces provide generous, leisurely areas for promenades and for experiencing the lakefront. The geometric simplicity of footpaths and landing points compose lines between buildings and frame open space.

The museum/gallery buildings offer space enough for resident artists, education programs, and innovative contemporary art exhibits of all mediums. The theaters, however, are the main focus of the design: a black-box theater, first-class auditorium seating one thousand, and outdoor theater for live music events occupy primary locations in the site plan and are designed with strong forms, both to reinforce their essential positions in the plan and to provide strong interiors for program events.

The programmatic mandate to link the project to the lake is of paramount importance. An enchanting water strategy therefore captures and filters lake water through inland waterways, filling reflecting pools and fountains before returning the water to the lake. Two cafés, edged by stone balustrades, sit in the lake beneath large copper sunshades, producing a magical lakeside dining locale. Sunlight filters through veils of translucent, adjustable copper, creating a delicately resilient atmosphere capturing magnificent lakeside views. The cafés function as part of the arts complex and as a separate commercial entity.

Climate-sensitive strategies allow passive cooling and reduction of the carbon footprint while new lighting technologies provide an array of colors and intensities. The water system, both active and standing, has a natural cooling effect on the overall landscape design. The durable, low-maintenance copper footpath shades provide shelter from glare and occasional rain while remaining open to seasonal variations of wind, rustling leaves, and the scent of blossoms.