Artists' creations give building a personal touch

David Vance works as a job captain for Glenn Livingood Penzler Miller Architects, the design firm for the new Lawrence Arts Center. But he also is an artist.

So when arts center officials made it known they wanted to incorporate the works of area artists into the new building's design, Vance created a proposal for a sign that would stand sentinel at the new building.

The sign is made of two 10-foot-tall concrete columns that are 6 feet apart, with a stainless-steel canopy 1 foot above the columns.

"It has fiber-optic illumination, and a concrete bench underneath the canopy," he said. "I worked on this project through all its phases and knew the materials. I wanted it to be compatible with the other materials."

Vance is one of several artists whose artwork ended up as elements in the building's design. Karl Ramberg used limestone from Bandera Quarry in Fort Scott to create the exterior plaza's limestone floor. Will Orvedal and Rick Stein made handmade wooden benches for the lobby area, while Jody Brown, who served as project designer for the new building, produced stainless-steel benches for the galleries.

Shanna Wagner created glass wall mosaic panels, and Steven Richardson made copper lighting fixtures for the lobby and gallery areas. Patrick Dooley created the word designs for the windows of the doors to classrooms and offices.

In addition, dozens of ceramic tiles painted by Lawrence residents as a fund-raiser for the new building will be installed in the public gathering space on the building's lower level.

Vance said he is excited that his artwork will be a part of the new structure.

"I like it because it's a permanent feature to the building," he said. "It's a marquee-type project for the city."

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