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The Sarah D. & L. Kirk, Jr.
McKay Archives Center

Florida Southern College
Lakeland, Florida

 

*Click Here* for more information on this project.
*Click Here* to view News Channel 8 video.

 
   
 

 
  Program & Purpose      
 

Originally intended as an expansion to Nils Schweizer’s Roux Library (Schweizer was Wright’s student and campus architect for the 25 years following Wright’s death), the Archives Center materializes the enduring collaboration between the Florida Southern College and the Florida Methodist Conference. This project signifies in a tangible way the bond between the two organizations and will allow the rich history of both to be preserved and shared for future generations. The new two-story facility houses the College's Frank Lloyd Wright documents, drawings, photographs, and other memorabilia from Wright's time at the College. Other collections that are tied closely with the history of the two groups will also find a home here, as well as Florida Southern College's Center for Florida History and the Florida Citrus Archives. The facility provides state-of-the-art archival space for invaluable College & Conference materials making them available to students and patrons through research and exhibits.

   
    Historical Context  
   
The McKay Archives Center is the first new building on the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed, west portion of the historic Florida Southern campus in twenty-five years. In a location originally designated by Wright as a dense grove of citrus trees, the new facility's form takes inspiration from the natural topography and influence from the immediate architectural context, including several Frank Lloyd Wright-designed structures. One of the campus’s most distinguishing characteristics is the 1.5 miles of covered walkways, or esplanades. The esplanades, abstracted from the campus site’s original citrus groves, operate as a network of spines connecting the academic nodes of each unique campus structure.
 
  Orientation & Form      
 
The owner initially proposed that the Center be built as an addition or “wing” to the existing library. By designing the Center as a stand-alone structure, a courtyard was developed between the two buildings. Flanked on the east by the library and the west by the Center, the existing library stair towers stand guard on the north and south ends of the courtyard enclosing this valuable outdoor public space. The cast-in-place concrete details that characterize the adjacent library were abstracted and integrated into the north and west elevations of the project. This was imperative to the owner in efforts to portray the programmatic relationship.
 
   
As an extension of the constructed landscape, the project continues the intrinsic trajectories of pedestrian circulation and trademark diagonal vistas across the historic campus. The building’s curved form preserves such a vista from one of the College’s primary entrances to several Wright structures, including the recently restored Water Dome and trademark Annie Pfeiffer Chapel. This view is also framed for occupants of the interior by the south glass façade from the first floor classroom as well as the primary reading, research and exhibit space on the second floor. The ten-foot overhangs reflect those of Wright and Schweizer, fitting appropriately into a campus covered in esplanades and shade-making architecture.
 
  Module & Materiality      
 
Materiality is paramount to the success of the project’s design. Exterior finishes weave this new building into the existing campus fabric while the glass curtain walls and aluminum sun shades reveal the contemporary nature of the interior. Two forty-feet high, cast-in-place concrete walls delaminate the layers of the southwest façade and operate as passive cooling devices shielding the afternoon sun. These somewhat brutalist concrete “shields”, free of ornament, stand juxtaposed with the scale and detail of Wright’s administration buildings. The façade behind the curved concrete walls echoes the material parti of the Wright buildings throughout the campus: textile block at the ground floor and cement stucco above. The ground floor rustication for this new building was accomplished with textile block concrete panels precast by a local master mason and based on Wright’s original molds, borrowed from the College’s collections. The panels will avoid the failures of the original student-cast coquina stone, sand and cement masonry units that are deteriorating due to water ingress that corroded the interior reinforcing bars. This “textile-like” pattern on the panels connects the building’s module and material texture to the nearby Wright structures. The campus module established by Wright was derived from the spacing of the original citrus grove that flourished on the site until the 1950’s.
   
 
*Click Here* for more information on this project.
*Click Here* to view News Channel 8 video.