Situated at the southwest edge of Pomona College, the Benton Museum of Art successfully bridges the campus and the nearby historic Claremont Village, a collection of civic buildings, train station, art galleries, shops and restaurants. The entrance of the museum, designed by Machado Silvetti, is pulled back from the street, with sculptures thoughtfully placed within the landscape and the project’s public space, creating a confluence of art, education, and community. The central courtyard, which divides the north and south galleries, functions as a flexible outdoor plaza that hosts several events throughout the year, establishing a meaningful learning environment along the urban corridor of the campus. Deep layers of planting are filled with a variety of textures and colors which surround the edges of the building’s handsome cast-in-situ concrete walls, creating moments of relief with playful garden paths and seating nooks. The selected planting responds to the context of the campus, acknowledging the character of the college, while also demonstrating the strong contemporary design language of the project. Species selected for their environmental benefits promotes an approach to sustainable landscape design, while elevating the modern appeal appreciated throughout the project. The site responds to the architecture of the museum and more importantly, the context of the Pomona College campus and the pedestrian friendly downtown streetscape to create a balanced garden, with moments of socialization and introspection.
EPTDESIGN worked closely with client and the architectural design team to identify how students, visitors, and staff would utilize the outdoor amenities as an extension of exhibit spaces. Studying the ebb and flow of the building floor plan was an important exercise in understanding the flexibility required as the museum curates a variety of workshops, lectures, and exhibitions that spill out into the garden. The museum’s façade includes many areas of full height glass, establishing an important relationship to the exterior courtyard. The tree locations and selections were carefully studied to ensure site lines, light, shade, and texture all worked cohesively with the building’s interiors. The gardens surrounding the building included several important sculptures that will remain permanent fixtures of the landscape. Utilizing scaled down pieces provided by the artist, the design team was able to understand the size and scale of each piece three dimensionally before they were installed.
Along College Avenue, a vital collector roadway, the landscape architects collaborated with the City of Claremont to develop a diverse tree palette, reducing the risk of future pests and disease that have plagued the urban forest of the surrounding neighborhoods. The newly installed trees were selected to reflect the cadence of the existing tree canopy along the street, providing shade for pedestrians and creating a consistent edge to the courtyard and amphitheater space to the west. Trees throughout the site were placed to blend with the existing canopy that college and City of Claremont values, while providing environmental benefits such as reducing the urban heat-island effect, creating habitat for birds, and helping to promote healthy air quality. The parking area to the west is framed by a row of Palo Verde trees providing shade while creating a showy pop of color along the building facade. Drought tolerant groundcovers, such as native grasses and adaptive succulents, were planted to minimize irrigation use and reduce maintenance, supporting a sustainable, low-impact design approach. Decomposed granite and open joint concrete paving were utilized to encourage infiltration where possible, increasing the project’s sustainability goals while reducing negative environmental impacts.
Architects involved in the design were: Gensler, Machado Silvetti
Project location (For publicly accessible projects please include exact address. For Private gardens place write Country or State):
120 W. Bonita Avenue
Claremont, CA 91711
Design year: 2014
Year Built: 2020