"The real point to the Wriston Art Center is that buildings are to be perceived on an emotional level and not merely an intellectual one, that architecture is a sensual and pleasurable pursuit and not merely a theoretical one."
Paul Goldberger, in a speech at Lawrence University, January 13, 1994

"Filled with whimsical details and stimulating vistas, partially transparent, charming, surprising, fortresslike, playful and warm, sassy, fanciful, elegant, imaginative, engaging, inviting."
Lawrence University Alumni Magazine, Fall 1988

The goal of this art center was to integrate the Fine Arts into campus life and to relate to a six-story library to the north, a one-story student union to the south, and the campus green to the west.

The building is located at the crossroads of three major campus paths and invites passersby to peer in through its expansive glass walls. Its low height allows illuminated glass towers, marking the galleries and lecture hall, to be seen under the trees of the campus green. Two similar towers on the north side of the building align with neighboring residence halls to the east and mark the two loading docks provided for the delivery of raw materials to the studios and of artwork to the galleries. These towers symbolize the primary functions of the center. The building's low height also solved the formal problem of its location between the tall library and the low student union. The building acts as a garden wall connecting the two.

To the south, a new amphitheater opens views to 3-D studios and provides a large public forum with places to sit, a southern exposure, protection from the wind, a location on the lively edge of a major student path, and proximity to the student union. It also provides a formal setting for outdoor concerts, with the afternoon sun at the spectators' backs.

To the north, there is small landscaped plaza with a fountain that operates in both the winter and summer by changing its medium from water to steam. Here, a glass-enclosed light well extends the entire north side of the building to bring light and views for passersby down into the 2-D studios below grade.

Three art galleries are arranged in a sequence of ascending size to create a sense of entering into an expanding world, giving visitors a sense of being a child once again, full of wonder.

Lawrence University Virtual Tour

Photography © Paul Warchol