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ARTifacts | Notes of Interest

Kent Bellows (1949 – 2005) was a lifelong Nebraska Artist who has been recognized as one of America’s greatest masters of American Realism and was known as a mentor for friends, colleagues and burgeoning artists.

The Kent Bellows Foundation requested a renovation to the artist’s work/live building to transform it into a center for art and student mentoring. The Kent Bellows Studio and Center for Visual Arts strives to ignite the creative spark in inner city youth, encouraging them to reach their highest potential through self expression in the visual arts. Artists ages 12-21 attend workshops and receive mentoring from nationally renowned artists through various programs and events put on by the Center.

The artist had worked in the building for twenty years and had built out much of the space with his own hands. Our intention was to identify the artifacts the artist left that had meaning. We identified and preserved 9 artifacts (gallery floor, Kent’s parka, glass block transom, moving backdrop wall, books, collages, light fixture pulley, wall mural, and wall installation).

Working with the artifacts, the design focused on minimal interventions to upgrade the building and provide the new spaces for the facility. The storefront intervention was a three dimensional sculpture of steel plates/tubes which creates windows, seating, facility signage, and the main entrance. The staircase/balcony intervention creates a continuous steel plate walkway that connects the entrance, gallery, library, office and the second floor studios. The library intervention is a meeting and reading space hovering above the gallery defined by a folded wood panel wall/ceiling that frames the artist’s moving backdrop wall.

Additional Credit

Construction: University of Nebraska Architecture Students

Photo Credit

© Farshid Assassi


Jury Comments

An excellent example of what is possible within limited means and unlimited desire.

Working within a historical structure, the project sensitively responded to both program and context in a series of deliberate and carefully considered moves, keeping with the spirit of the place and its inspiration.

The solution was both raw and refined.

2012 Institute Honor Awards for Interior Architecture Jury

  • Elizabeth Corbin Murphy, FAIA, Chair
  • CMB Architects
  • Akron
  • Robert Allen, Jr., AIA
  • Metalhouse
  • Norwalk, Connecticut
  • Mark Jensen, AIA
  • Jensen Architects
  • San Francisco
  • David Lenox, AIA
  • University Architect/Dir. Campus Planning
  • Stanford University
  • Palo Alto, California
  • Erick S. Ragni, AIA
  • MaRS Architects
  • Houston

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