I-Park Visual Arts Studios

The I-Park Foundation is an international artist-in-residency program located in East Haddam, Connecticut. I-Park had previously developed, and received approval for, an overall master plan for their 400+ acre property that included a series of new art studios, a residential building, small performance venue, workshop and a recording/music studio.

A musician, former artist-in-residence at I-Park, and friend of the two partners at Fiedler Marciano Architecture (FMA) Mark Fiedler and Martin Marciano, introduced them to the people at I-Park knowing that FMA had previously designed a recording studio in Syracuse, New York (http://www.fiedlermarciano.com/commercial/219subcat.html),  and thinking they might be able to assist with the design of the music studio at I-Park.  As is often the case I-Park’s priorities shifted slightly, away from the music studio and onto their more pressing need for two large visual arts studios.  As part of research into the project FMA partner Mark Fiedler served a two week residency at I-Park, focusing on becoming familiar not only with the physical environment, but with the ‘culture’ of the place itself.  The residency included analysis of the site, review of the existing master plan, structured hikes through the property, photographic documentation and interviews with artists in residence.  By the end of the residency FMA had fine tuned the overall master plan, suggested a specific site for both the sound studio and the two new visual arts studios, and proposed an architectural ‘language’ for all future studios, consisting of a conceptual approach towards the surroundings, formal quality and materials palette.  This full immersion into the project during the two-week residency was a unique experience and extremely effective in constructing an inherent understanding of the place, an understanding that partner Mark Fiedler now carries with him.  With the two visual arts studios now complete FMA hopes to continue assisting I-Park with the future realization of the music/sound studio and the overall master plan.

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I-Park is a special place.  An artist-in-residency program set on 400+ rolling acres in the bucolic Connecticut countryside.  From May thru November artists of every stripe come for a month to live, work, and commune with colleagues – and all in a much cherished, serene and ‘distraction free’ environment.  The place affects the work and the work most certainly affects the place, with the ephemeral art that populates the woods, fields, trails and pond creating a perpetual sense of discovery and delight.

These two Large Visual Arts Studios are the first structures realized as part of an overall conceptual master plan for the property – slated to include additional studios, a music/recording studio, workshop, residence hall and performing arts venue.  The studios are characterized by a ‘front porch’, plentiful wall space, and an expansive north-facing window wall that brings the outside in.  The creative potential of seedling acorns provided inspiration for the materials palette, a dark protective shell and light, warm interiors.  The forms are a simple variation on the vernacular pitched roof, first offset and then sliced – this simple gesture adds a dynamism and sculptural quality that unhinges them from the everyday.  The interior space formed by the geometry has a plasticity that gyrates ever so slightly – prodding the creative process.  Sited to respect existing site features and topography, the two studios respectfully interact like tentative dance partners, with the subtle tension of the shared space between them shaped by angled and escalating walls that frame and celebrate a bucolic vista of trees and hilltops.

For more information about “International Artists-in-Residence Program visit > http://www.i-park.org/

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