The Civic Center for the Arts and Culture (CCAC) in Ciudad Juárez is envisioned as a multi-dimensional community center and school for the arts. It is meant to be the home for music and cultural programs to be used by the families of SMart employees and as a community outreach hub. It is to allow for many uses (and user diversity) to overlap blending fine and performing arts, traditional classrooms, and indoor and outdoor play areas into a cohesive communal asset. The design challenge is to develop a Center that welcomes the community providing a sense of ownership and belonging while recognizing the sensitive security issues of a city in a state of rebuilding.
The design responds to these goals by first providing an entry monument tower as an enclosure for the water cistern. The tower becomes a landmark demarcating the Center and acting as a gateway to the property and a cue that one has entered something special. The Center is secured with a “fence” that resembles sculpture with vertical flat steel posts spaced apart to allow visibility, but close enough deter undesirable entry. The building vocabulary borrows from regional masonry and stucco tradition and injects moments of vibrancy and rhythm echoing the colorful passion and resilience of the people.
The building wraps a light-filled central space in a protective gesture with secure high windows and rhythmic narrow vertical openings for natural light. The bulk of the gymnasium mass rises up with its south-facing facade used as an armature for a photovoltaic solar panel array that acts also as a shade canopy for a Portal that faces the outdoor play area. Translucent insulated panels run the length of the north side of the multi-use gym to provide soft diffuse north light. The building separates two distinct outdoor areas, one plaza-like which has a formal presence useful for events and the other, less defined, ideal for sport and play. Within a compact footprint, the design works to balance the opposing notions between protection and freedom by softened barriers treated more as landscape architecture allowing the community to feel a sense of security to foster inspired worry-free creativity within.

Ciudad Juárez, Mexico

19,875 SF

Community Center & School for the Arts

Jon Anderson, FAIA

Project Manager:
James Lucero, AIA

Kirk Gittings