R+B Named Architect for the New Digital Fabrication Lab at Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Snowmass

Rowland+Broughton Architecture/Urban Design/Interior Design has been selected as the architect on the new Digital Fabrication Lab (Fab Lab) project at Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Snowmass, Colorado.

Over its 54-year history, Anderson Ranch Arts Center has had a history of embracing innovative new technologies and incorporating them into the arts curriculum offered on their campus. Earlier this year, thanks to the gift of an anonymous donor, R+B was enlisted to assist with the expansion and upgrade of the Fab Lab to keep pace with emerging digital fabrication technologies and support artistic innovation across various disciplines.

Addressing a primary goal of providing greater access and visibility to the lab’s equipment, our team collaborated with Anderson Ranch President and CEO Peter Waanders to relocate the Fab Lab into a larger studio space (formerly the Turning Studio) within the centrally located Maloof Barn on campus. The move also encourages all mediums to incorporate digital fabrication into their education and art making.

Work on the 853-square-foot project includes retrofitting the space for improved infrastructure and ventilation, which supports investment in the technologies needed to stay on the forefront of innovation in the arts. The new Fab Lab will allow for the expansion of available digital fabrication equipment, including vacuum formers, UV printers, multiple 3D printers, and a 3-axis and 4-axis Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) machine, to students across the campus. Workstations for studio sizes of approximately ten students will provide the much-needed capacity for increasing demand. Isolating the CNC machines provides for a clean and acoustically isolated space for operation while classes are in progress or other equipment is being used.

Long and narrow, with vaulted ceilings and abundant natural light, the new Fab Lab studio will separate the fabrication equipment space from student workstations and position the studio’s faculty member in the center. This configuration allows the faculty member to easily initiate fabrications on any number of the machines while remaining easily accessible to students working in software at the workstations. At the end of the space, the 4-axis CNC machine is built into an acoustically controlled environment, with removable walls for easy future access.

Integrating innovative technologies into an ever-evolving campus with historic log buildings meant embracing the tradition of experimentation at the core of the maker-ethos of Anderson Ranch. The work surfaces and tables are being made by Brad Reed Nelson, a long-time wood shop faculty member. An installation by Brad Miller, prior executive director of the Ranch, will integrate art into the studio. An outdoor sculpture by internationally recognized modern artist James Surls will mark the entrance to the Fab Lab on the campus.*

“Collaborating with Rowland+Broughton about moving the Fab Lab to the center of the Ranch so that it becomes the hub that moves technology through campus has been really exciting,” said Waanders. “Brainstorming with the team helped allow the Fab Lab program to reach into the future. It’s a destination in its own right in a bright open space with a great deck outside, but also a resource for buildings it connects to, like the woodshop. There’s a historical connection to our campus and yet it completely and directly connects to both our soul and our mission as an organization.”

R+B Principal Sarah Broughton adds, “Working with Peter (Waanders) and the Anderson Ranch Fab Lab team has been enlightening and inspiring. The Fab Lab perfectly blends a variety of R+B’s project types and passions, including historical preservation, ranch master planning, historic institutional, and cultural work. Incorporating modern amenities and advanced technical innovations that will assist artists in their work is extremely rewarding. We look forward to its completion next month and to seeing how it advances experiences in our new reality.”

In response to the current pandemic, virtual summer workshops will be held to give Fab Lab students the opportunity to learn to code and use design software to digitally design ceramic pieces, which will be printed or digitally cut to make a 3D piece that will be mailed to them.

Photos courtesy of R+B

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