The exhibit “Roche and Dinkeloo’s Architecture for the Center for the Arts: A Situated Modernism” is on display May 16-May 25 in the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery’s South Gallery. The show is curated by Joseph Siry, professor of art history and the Kenan Professor of the Humanities.
On the occasion of the Center for the Arts’ 40th anniversary, this exhibition traces the process of its design and building from Wesleyan’s early discussions with architects Kevin Roche and John Dinkeloo in 1965 through the Center’s completion in 1973. Including plan drawings, renderings, model and construction photographs, and a recreation of Kevin Roche’s oral and visual presentation of the original design to Wesleyan, the exhibition explores the contextual and programmatic factors to which the Center’s modernist architecture responded as a family of buildings artfully situated in the campus.
Designed by Roche-Dinkeloo, the CFA’s characteristic limestone buildings are comprised of nearly 100,000 cubic feet of stone that are subsequently modified to yield a textured appearance with parallel gradients in color.
Key figures in the CFA’s construction include, from left, John Martin, local architect, chair of the CFA’s faculty committee and its first director, and professor of Art; C.B. Stone ’23, chairman of the Trustee Buildings and Grounds Committee; Victor L. Butterfield, Wesleyan’s 11th president; Howard Matthews, vice-president; Kevin Roche, architect; and Earl Johnson, college engineer.
In 1965, the Wesleyan Board of Trustees selected Kevin Roche as the architect for a creative arts center. He presented his first model to the board in October 1966. After several revisions, the trustees approved an 11-building complex at the cost of $11.8 million.
Construction began in August 1970 and was completed in September 1973.
James Barr sketched this pencil rendering of the CFA’s smooth planar walls that parallel Wyllys Avenue, enclosed by the Rehearsal Hall.
At 1 p.m. on May 24, curator Joseph Siry will speak on “The Architecture of Wesleyan’s Center for the Arts — Modernism and the Greek Revival” in the Center for the Arts Hall. architect Kevin Roche will be in attendance as a respondent. Reception to follow. Siry’s lecture traces the development of the design of the Center for the Arts as a response to its context of Greek Revival architecture on Wesleyan’s campus, and as an integration of ideas from earlier and contemporaneous architecture of the 20th century. Emphasis is on the evolution of spatial planning, the representation of the design from its origins in 1966, and its process of construction to its opening in 1973. (Photos by Olivia Drake)