Escuela de Bellas Artes
Carolina, Puerto Rico - 2000
We were commissioned to design a School of Fine Arts within a site that contained an existing facility. In spite of being on the edge of the town center, the existing school was not within the traditional street grid and it was perceived as an area detached from the urban fabric. In the same way, the other existing structures on the site (two modules 60’s-70’s “pop-out” schools and a small accessory building built shortly after the original school ) also were isolated and disconnected from each other. Within the mentioned context, we designed a specialized school, defined by a complex program, committed to the maximum recycling of existing structures and to the physical connection of those detached buildings. We also took on the challenge of establishing order and meaning to a chaotic area – proposing a development that incorporates the existing structures by creating relevant exterior areas and spatial sequences, which allude to the traditional urban center of the town of Carolina. The four (4) different fine arts departments, auxiliary buildings and a 500-seat theater are organized around courtyard and plazas, each one with it’s own character and particular function. We used as spatial precedent the “Arsenal de la Marina” in Old San Juan – a magnificent solution to the problem of geometric disarticulation. With the building of the Carolina Fine Arts School we hoped to recuperate part of the urban experience which has been lost in town for decades, without negating the individuality of the existing school and being conscious not to succumb to simplistic mimicry.