Tippet Rise Arts Center in south-central Montana is adding a new design to its portfolio of art and architecture: a structure by Francis Kéré. Conceived as a 1,900-square-foot, open-air pavilion, the African architect’s creation will join monumental sculptures, artistic buildings, and large-scale works of art by Ensamble Studio, Alexander Calder, Gunnstock Timber Frames, and others on the former sheep ranch’s 10,260 acres.
Tippet Rise founders Cathy and Peter Halstead discovered Kéré’s work online and were instantly enamored with his architecture. Then, says Cathy, “We started leaning about what an incredible human being he is, and what his values are, and we realized what an astonishing partnership working with him could be for Tippet Rise.”
The Halsteads envisioned adding a structure to the cultural center that would provide the opportunity for quiet, shaded repose. “When people come to Tippet Rise, they listen to a concert, go for a walk, eat in the dining shed,” Peter told RECORD. “There wasn’t a place for them to sit and meditate, to hear the silence.”
Kéré’s design—which the Halsteads describe as a new iteration of ideas in his canopy for the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark and, more recently, the 2017 Serpentine Pavilion in London—calls for a round structure of locally sourced ponderosa pine and lodgepole pine, situated across the path of a circular aerial bridge spanning a small stream. (“We were on the ranch seven years before we discovered this beautiful little brook about 300 feet away from the dining shed,” says Peter.) The pavilion will contain shaded seating areas and a viewing platform, and will likely host music and poetry-related programming.
Kéré’s team will collaborate with local architect Laura Viklund Gunn of Gunnstock Timber Frames, who led the design of the Olivier Music Barn as well as the new dining facility called Will’s Shed, both on the property. Construction is expected to be complete in time for the arts center’s 2019 summer season. But the Halsteads plan for their partnership with Kéré to extend beyond the completion of the pavilion: their foundation (the Tippet Rise Fund of the Sidney E. Frank Foundation) is supporting construction of a new school designed by the architect in Burkina Faso.
“It was very meaningful to us to be able to help him achieve his dreams as he’s helping us achieve ours,” says Cathy. Like the pavilion at Tippet Rise, Kere’s Naaba Belem Goumma Secondary School in Burkina Faso is set to be completed in 2019.