The Benton Museum of Art at Pomona College is sited as a key interface between the campus and the village of Claremont, CA. At this location the building offers spaces for both direct and casual engagement with art for the college and community alike. The building's organization is inspired by the thatch-work plan of the overall campus where long arcades and pedestrian axes string together spaces of varying size, intimacy and interiority. At the Benton a number of cross-axes provide access and views across the site, while holding together a composition of interior and exterior spaces. The culmination of this design approach is a visually porous museum where passersby can get a glimpse of the art world inside and visitors on the interior are often in contact with the landscapes and light of Southern California.
The Benton Museum creates the conditions of a museum much larger than itself as a means of revealing the reality of museum curation and experience to students. This pedagogical imperative of the College results in a range of gallery, back-of-house and social spaces including two curricular galleries to be curated by students. In addition, gallery rated educational portals are directly connected to art storage vaults for the easy transfer of artworks for study in a classroom environment.
Cast-in-place concrete is the primary structural, thermal and exterior façade solution. Pomona College has a long history of cast-in-place concrete and here at the Benton the concrete is rendered in its most essential states-board formed and smooth-and is contrasted against stained heavy timbers that interact with the concrete as portico, porch, arcade, threshold and embedded ornamentation.
The Benton is designed to LEED Gold standards and will outperform ASHRAE 90.1-2010 Baseline buildings by at least 30%. An industry leading low Energy Use Intensity of 50-59 kBtu/sqft/year is made possible by directly tying the design of architecture and building systems to the predictive patterns of use over the building's lifetime.