David Adjaye’s bright red Ruby City gears up for public opening in October

David Adjaye’s bright red Ruby City gears up for public opening in October

On the edge of San Pedro Creek in San Antonio, southern Texas, Ruby City rises. The 930 sq m art centre, clad in crimson-coloured precast concrete, is the city’s latest cultural venue, designed by Adjaye Associates in partnership with local firm, Alamo Architects.

The project has been a long time coming; it was conceived 12 years ago by the late art collector and philanthropist, Linda Pace, who sketched her idea for the project after waking from a dream. Much has changed since Pace scrawled down a sparkling, turreted building, but the colour emphatically remains; so much so that it gives the project its name, Ruby City.

‘My goal was to translate Linda’s idea into a building that will do justice to her legacy,’ says Adjaye. ‘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 will display work from Isaac Julien, Jennifer Steinkamp, Kiki Smith, Do Ho Suh, Wangechi Mutu and others from Pace’s extensive collection. An 18-foot-tall Chair for Man and His Spirit by Marina Abramović will be one of the inaugural exhibits. Photography: Dror Baldinger, courtesy of Ruby City and Adjaye Associates

Ruby City’s skin uses a glass and mica aggregate made south of the border in Mexico City. At ground level, the concrete has been polished to create a smooth, tactile finish; three metres above, a coarser aggregate using shards of varying shades has been used.

Behind the building’s angular massing, Ruby City hosts three white walled galleries filled with light, courtesy of two pitched rooflights. The internal entrance and lobby, the latter doubling up as an auxiliary exhibition space, retain the reddish hue of the façade.

Despite not offering a shop or café, the museum is planning on allowing food trucks to the site, where they will set up shop in Chris Park, a one-acre swathe of public greenery adjacent the museum where patrons will also be able to bring picnics.

‘We are part of the vibrant arts district of San Antonio known as ‘Southtown’,’ Kelly O’Connor, Head of Collections told Wallpaper*. ‘We are fortunate to be located adjacent to other art venues as well as local restaurants and coffee shops.’ Ruby city opens this October and will be free to enter. §

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