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David Adjaye Completes Red Concrete Art Center, Ruby City, In San Antonio

Ruby City Contemporary Art Center, San Antonio, Texas

Dror Baldinger

Ruby City, a new contemporary art center in San Antonio, Texas, is set to open to the public in October 2019, 12 years after the vision for the building was first imagined by the late Linda Pace. Home to the growing Linda Pace Foundation permanent collection, the building is designed by Adjaye Associates in collaboration with Alamo Architects, and is dedicated to providing a space for the city’s thriving creative community to experience works by both local and internationally-acclaimed artists.

 Ruby City Contemporary Art Center, San Antonio, Texas

The design for the 14,000 square-foot building is inspired, in part, by the Spanish Missions found throughout the Southwest, constructed by the Spanish Empire during the 16th to 19th centuries. The exterior skin consists of a precast concrete fabricated in Mexico City, which has been imbued with a rich red giving the building its ruby glow.

For the first ten feet up, the concrete is a polished finish, ground smoothly to be touched by passersby; above, the concrete wall is rough, sharp, and encrusted with varying shades of red glass. Two crowning lanterns adorn the top of the structure, creating an animated roofline that in turn draws natural light into the gallery spaces. The interior entrance and lobby have also been constructed in the same crimson hue, preserve Pace’s original vision of a “ruby city.”

 Ruby City Contemporary Art Center, San Antonio, Texas

“My goal was to translate Linda’s idea into a building that will do justice to her legacy. It is a tremendous responsibility and one that is dear to my heart,” Sir David Adjaye OBE said. “Linda had a clear vision for how the institution should be an inspirational space for the community and interact with its surroundings, drawing visitors into the jewel-like structure while connecting to the San Antonio landscape. The building creates a narrative journey through the space that allows the collection to be accessed in an organic and meaningful way.”

 Ruby City Contemporary Art Center, San Antonio, Texas

Throughout the building, texture and character take on an incredibly important role in defining the essence of the space. Conceived as an ambulatory loop, the building will house major works by world-renowned artists including Isaac Julien, Jennifer Steinkamp, Kiki Smith, Do Ho Suh and Wangechi Mutu, among many others.

The extensive gallery space, spanning over 10,000 square-feet, introduces visitors to a selection of the over 900 artworks maintained by the Linda Pace Foundation.

Adjacent to the museum, the accompanying sculpture garden is defined by an oval pathway, of exposed concrete aggregate, that circles a wide lawn area that is annexed to its west by a field of red cast-in-place concrete with a rock salt finish. The sculpture garden, adorned with a work by Nancy Rubins, uses sourced materials and stands as its own entity celebrating the ubiquity of public sculpture.

 Ruby City Contemporary Art Center, San Antonio, Texas

“It is truly an incredible feat to see Linda’s dream come fully into fruition,” says Trustee Kathryn Kanjo, “Ruby City will not only provide the San Antonio community with a vigorous arts program, deepening the appreciation and accessibility to contemporary culture, but also will house the incredibly significant collection of work that Linda worked her entire life to build.”

The new building is part of a growing campus, which also includes Chris Park, a one-acre public green space named in memoriam to Pace’s son, as well as Studio, an auxiliary exhibition space which presents curated shows and programming throughout the year. Ruby City is free and open to the public year round.