The new façade, frontage and promenade created to distinguish the exhibition grounds for the Festival of Arts, one of the country’s oldest and most highly acclaimed juried fine arts shows, is itself a work of art. Among the materials utilized to help create the attractive new entrance is Reynobond® aluminum composite material from Alcoa Architectural Products.
Commissioned by the Festival of Arts | Pageant of the Masters as a replacement for the weather-battered Festival frontage and façade constructed along Laguna Canyon Road in 1997, the serpentine form of the $3.5 million structure recalls the forms and materials of the canyon–– and provides the identity, security and noise and dirt mitigation essential to the Festival exhibitors’ and patrons’ experience.
Bauer Architects’ design captures the importance of the Festival by renewing the function, form and aesthetic image of the Laguna Canyon entrance, and reimagines the Festival façade as a nexus, or connection, between the Village of Laguna Beach and Laguna Canyon, between the landscape and the built environment, between nature and art. The promenade is defined at the south end by a frieze of patinated Reynobond® copper composite material (CCM) and other naturally aging metals––layered silhouettes of the oaks, eucalyptuses and sycamores of the canyon––providing a year-round identity for the Festival of Arts site.
Originally, the design required a metal that would age to a rusted look and have the appearance of thick plate. But when copper plate material was found to be too heavy and costly, Crowner Sheet Metal proposed using Reynobond® copper panels in their stead. “The natural copper skin of the CCM ages to a natural patina, and provides the appearance of thick plate while remaining light enough to be point supported, allowing for backlighting to be used effectively,” commented Daniel Alva, the estimator for Crowner Sheet Metal.
“Some of the copper panels are ‘cut’ in forms derived from the native Laguna Canyon trees,” said Jay Bauer, FAIA, principal of Bauer Architects. “This image or pattern provides an artistic interpretation of the canyon landscape; reinforcing the connection between the festival and its canyon location and becoming a marquee for the festival site. In choosing copper, we chose a durable, naturally aging material the coloration of which would change over time.” The design also provides a backdrop for image panels that display scenes from the Pageant of the Masters when in season, and changing imagery of the natural environment during the off-season.
With no straight lines, it was challenging to fabricate the design for the marquee. The architects’ renderings, which incorporated two layers of the panel system, were broken down into puzzle-like parts with the aid of a CAD program, then cut into individual shapes by the CNC routing machine. Although the Reynobond® copper material ages naturally when exposed to the elements, the architect desired a specific shade of patina for both the front and back screen panels of the design, so the panels were packaged and shipped to a metal finisher. Once the correct patina was achieved, the puzzle pieces were assembled to form a screen and finished as a whole to ensure the consistency of the finish.
The patinated pieces were sent back to Crowner’s shop where they were assembled into large sections––approximately 10 feet high and 60 feet long––over a waterproof fabric material. The assembled sections were traced onto the fabric to create a pattern the field crew could use on the project site. Using the pattern, they were able to lay out the parts on the wall and to pinpoint where each of the point-supported steel standoff posts would be installed, without physically having the panels on site, while the team in the shop added stiffeners and perimeter butt plates to each piece. When the panel pieces arrived, they were assembled per part number and fastened to the standoff posts to create the frieze. Crowner used a point-supported rainscreen panel system for the installation, to eliminate the use of framework behind the panel system to allow for backlighting.
The design creates a new pedestrian promenade––a forecourt and arrival place––for visitors to mingle and gather with enhanced accessibility and seating. The promenade connects the exhibition grounds with transit and the Laguna Canyon Arts District. The 600-linear-foot façade begins as a low, rammed earth wall at the north end that rises with the “fall” of the canyon and culminates with the entablature of patinated metals at the south end. The structure also provides areas for guest services, such as ticketing.
The new Festival of Arts frontage and façade, a sculpture itself, provides year-round visual identity for the Festival, strengthens the connection to the larger landscape and improves wayfinding and, ultimately, the guest experience. The project was recognized for its creative use of non-traditional materials in 2014 with a Commercial Design––Unbuilt Merit Award from the AIA Orange County Chapter.
Architect: Bauer Architects, Newport Beach, CA
Fabricator & Installer: Crowner Sheet Metal, Baldwin Park, CA
General Contractor: KPRS Construction Services, Inc., Brea, CA
Photography Credit: Mark Kempf Photography, St. Louis, MO