“The intent of the design was to go toe-to-toe with the blast furnaces,” Biondo says. The service areas are all thrust to the building’s southern side, leaving the glazed-in public spaces to confront the looming structures of the old plant to the north head-on. Seen from the window of ArtsQuest’s third-floor Musikfest Cafe, the network of catwalks and bellows resembles a rust-bound pipe organ, making it a striking backdrop for the performers who have taken the main stage since the space opened in April. Compositionally, too, the center gestures toward the furnaces, with its articulated, boxlike interior forms suggesting something of the towers’ bristling functional complexity. But the new building doesn’t attempt to outdo the old—if anything, it errs on the side of understatement.To save it from value-engineered blandness, ArtsQuest has not only its sensational site, but a heightened sense of place contrived by its designers.
Excerpt from Architect - Septermber 2011
“Artsquest Center at Steelstacks” by Ian Volner