The “New” Arthouse

“Color-coded history” is how architect Paul Lewis of New York-based architecture firm Lewis.Tsurmaki.Lewis describes the red, green, and yellow trusses of the second-floor gallery’s exposed ceiling in the recently renovated Arthouse at the Jones Center (Austin).

Walking through the gallery, Lewis indicates the that the red steel is from the original 1920s Queen Theater, the yellow from a 1950s Lerner Shops department store, and the green from the 2010 renovation, which sought to reinforce the structure.

Layers of history define the project, which is a collaboration between the architects and Arthouse’s Building Committee and staff. In fact, the architects were selected based on an interview, not a proposal, and the design grew organically.

Solar tube lighting, a crow’s-nest view of the Texas Capitol, and 150 green-glass apertures add unique touches to the design. But the new features don’t define the project, the original building does, and the architects and Arthouse let it shine through.

The project received a 2011 Texas Society of Architects Design Award and is featured in the 2011 Sept/Oct issue of Texas Architect.