A   SMALL   PRINT   STUDIO    FOR    A    WORKING    ARTIST

 

Conrad Ross is a practicing artist in Auburn and a retired professor of Art from the Auburn University Department of Art.  Prior to his retirement Conrad asked me to design and build a studio for his use then and later after the completion of his university activities.  I realized early on during some our first meetings and preliminary discussions that, not unexpectedly, the budget would become a formidable arbiter exerting a strong decisive presence in the design and build process. Therein lay the basic challenge, to be fiscally prudent yet not ignore the obligation to imbue the studio with some sense of character befitting this special occasion. Comparative costs became a close companion and conventional methodologies, and I, reluctant friends.  We began with an ordinary cost per square foot estimate, factored in several money saving modifiers, and sought to exclude as many inessentials as possible. The final intuitive overview resulted in the decision to begin with an affordable floor plan of 7 to 8 hundred square feet. Because the backyard slightly sloping site lacked any prominent surface characteristics and the functional requirements for the studio were simple, no special plan configurations were deemed necessary.  Rafter span and spacing and sheathing size determined a floor plan width dimension of 18 feet, necessity added an 18 foot by 16 foot loft area above the 1st floor at one end, and both were easily covered by a modified shed roof.  A seeming free standing stacked concrete block wall encloses the east and part of the north side of the building.  The remainder of the north facade is composed of large individual panels arranged to create a composition of hexagonal shapes derived from the angled lines of the sloping roof.  Wrapped in this patterning the studio became an integral part of a larger three dimensional composition and therefore an artwork in itself, similar in concept, to the orthogonal facade patterning of many modernist buildings.

 

A final finishing touch, one surely funkier than functional remains, unfortunately, unimplemented. This culminating addition involved covering the sheet metal surfaces of the two hexagonal wall pieces on the north side of the composition with a green grass like astro-turf material similar to that used on the outside sales area of the University Motor Cars building.  [See the last exhibit on this page.]  I felt the addition of this close clipped all-American lawn like grass texture would assist in transforming the buildings edge into an integrated part of the backyard setting and create a presence similar to that created by certain adaptive mosses that often take up residence on weathered outdoor surfaces and collectively add a patina to many of the elements found in many outdoor garden landscapes and other constructions.  Unfortunately, Conrad has been unable to secure the necessary additional funding to enable this final touch.  This perfect ending therefore, most likely, will not become a reality in the near or distant future.  

 

Fin.