On a late-January morning, the midwinter sun turns San Antonio’s Ruby City a blush shade. The new $16 million, 14,000-square-foot art center, designed by Adjaye Associates, derives its name from the iris-burning hue of its crimson cladding, which densely aggregates two types of recycled red glass, pigment, mica, volcanic rock, and other admixtures. But by the overcast afternoon, the brownish mineral tones latent in the carapace have been coaxed to the surface, smothering the otherwise-dominant reds and pinks.
The coloration seems to stand apart from the building (as it does in reality, spilling over into a public plaza). Best known stateside for his central role in the design of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., David Adjaye, too, stands apart from his work. His erudition seems to foreground, and outpace, his designs, which he explicates with carefully selected analogies and cozy likenesses. Ruby City is not just a gallery but a “little temple for art.”
A few miles south of San Antonio’s core, amid cell-phone towers and highway interchanges, this beachhead of culture arrives at a key moment for the growing city, which has seen a steady influx of white-collar professionals and a rash of cheap five-over-ones to meet them. In this same spirit, a spate of urban projects is under way, including the rehabilitation of San Pedro Creek as a pedestrian promenade; its last leg, due to be completed in the coming decade, will run right past Ruby City’s front door.
Courtesy Dror Baldinger FAIA – metropolismag.com