The Laboratory of Art and Ideas at Belmar is an institution in a development on the outskirts of Denver in the city of Lakewood, Colorado. It is unique not only for its eclectic, programmatic agenda and unconventional marketing tactics, but also for being incorporated into the kind of development that normally would not include such a cultural facility. Belmar is the product of a developer-initiated attempt to implement a “downtown” in the City of Lakewood. A hyper-urban environment defined by a density of retail resulted.
The design by Belzberg Architects addressed two critical issues: the necessity of the ground floor entry to attract passersby in a manner distinct from the surrounding retail; and the creation of a space which was flexible and could be easily redefined to accommodate the various events in the program.
On the ground floor of the Belmar development, stores compete for customers by pushing as much signage as possible toward the front. The entry and storefront design for The Lab does not compete with the efforts of these shops, however. Rather, a single, curvilinear surface recedes to the back of the entry lobby and pushes the entry stairs toward the exterior corner of the space. The glazing is clear and uninterrupted except where the curvilinear surface protrudes through. The space between the curving surface and the stairs twists from the ground floor to the second floor where the galleries and flex-function spaces are located.
Moveable signposts, referred to as stanchions, mimic the form of the wall below and are intermittently dispersed through the flexible upstairs spaces. At the opposite end of the second floor is the lecture/lounge space. The ceiling is designed as an undulating topography of painted foam blocks. The window walls are fronted by large sheets of felt that hang to the floor. This soft surface continues as custom, felt-covered, foam-block furniture resting on shag rugs. The modularity of the ceiling blocks and furniture are reconfigurable to accommodate varying functions and room dimensions. While the foam and felt serve acoustical purposes, the design process and formal results help to maintain a consistency of design from the lobby through the flex-function spaces into the lecture/lounge.
Principal: Hagy Belzberg
Project Managers Bill Bowen, Brock DeSmit
Project Team: Barry Gartin, Carina Bien-WIllner, Dan Rentsch, David Cheung
Developer’s Executive Architect:
California Art Products Co.
Fiberglass: California Art Products Co.