Designed by Architectural Resources Group (ARG), the new Steven S. Koblik Education and Visitor Center at the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens opened last week in San Marino.
Led by Stephen J. Farneth, FAIA, LEED AP, founder and principal of Architectural Resources Group (ARG), the education and visitor center was designed to improve the Huntington’s educational facilities and visitor arrival experience while complementing the existing buildings on the estate, which include a residence and library built in 1911 and 1919, respectively, for railroad magnate Henry E. Huntington.
“We wanted to preserve the historic residence and library as the estate’s center,” says Farneth. “So instead of making the education and visitor center one large building, we broke up the program—arrival and ticketing areas, a retail store, an auditorium and classrooms, dining facilities, and archives—into a series of buildings of more modest scale, all carefully placed to create an edge to the gardens of the estate.”
The center consists of 52,000 square feet of educational facilities and visitor amenities; 42,000 square feet of underground storage and archive space; and 6.5 acres of gardens designed in concert with the architecture by the Office of Cheryl Barton. At the heart of the new complex, a grand glass-domed fernery links indoor and outdoor spaces and serves as a highly flexible venue able to accommodate events.
The buildings are classically proportioned to harmonize with the estate’s existing buildings but are distinctly contemporary in style. Materials such as stucco, cast stone, copper, and clay tile relate to the materials palette of the original structures.