SAN MARINO, CA.-
The front, northernmost section of the new Steven S. Koblik Education and Visitor Center will open to the public on Jan. 14, 2015, The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens
announced today. The opening makes available to visitors a new, beautiful, and substantially larger Huntington Store, a new specialty coffee shop, and a new full-service admissions and membership areaall surrounding a shady entry grove. The rest of the visitor center will open in April and will feature a 400-seat auditorium, a large café with indoor/outdoor seating with garden views, four multi-use classrooms, meeting and event spaces, and an orientation gallery, all arranged amid six and a half acres of new gardens.
Officially named in June by The Huntingtons board of trustees in honor of Huntington President Steven S. Koblik, the $68 million project broke ground in April 2013 and has remained on, or ahead of, schedule, allowing for the early opening of the front portion of the facility. An additional $10 million has been raised to endow visitor center operations.
Designed by Architectural Resources Group, the center consists of 52,000 square feet of educational facilities and visitor amenities. The design of the complex of buildings and gardens harmonizes with the original early 20th-century Beaux-Arts architecture on the property (once the estate of Gilded Age railroad magnate, real estate developer, and collector Henry E. Huntington). The landscape, designed in concert with the architecture by the Office of Cheryl Barton, reflects the local Mediterranean climate as well as both the agricultural and elegant estate history of the 207-acre Huntington grounds. Much of the new construction replaces existing facilities built in 1980 that no longer accommodate the needs of Huntington visitors, scholars, or staff.
The project also includes the addition of 42,000 square feet of underground spaces to house The Huntingtons growing collections of original historical research materials as well as provide institutional storage.
The Steven S. Koblik Education and Visitor Center was funded entirely with private contributions, with a lead gift from Charles T. Munger.
THE NEW FEATURES
A New Face
Guests approach the parking lot by way of Palm Drive and get an immediate sense of the estate and its agricultural roots. California pepper trees, characteristic of Southern California ranches and placed amid soft meadow grasses and flowering perennials, introduce the arrival court. A new entrance façade with columns and trellises that support native grapevines frames the entrance, and a row of banners affixed to the center of the front façade colorfully promotes special exhibitions currently on view in The Huntingtons various galleries. An orange grove to the east of the building evokes the regions agricultural Past.
Admissions and Membership Building
Most visitors first stop will be at the admissions building, where they can ask questions of a visitor services representative, purchase entrance passes, buy or renew their Membership, or get information about whats going on at The Huntington that day. The building also includes restrooms, lockers, and an ATM.
The Huntington Store
With 5,000 square feet of retail space, the new Huntington Store is twice the size of its predecessor. The airy interior consists of interconnected rooms surrounding a central space with a vaulted sky-lit ceiling. Miroglio Architecture and Design created interior finishes and furnishings that highlight a different theme for each room to showcase gifts related to the collections that range from William Morris-inspired textiles and stationery to handmade scarves and jewelry, from fun and educational childrens gifts to garden decorations. The store also boasts a selection of books for all ages and a range of interests.
A small coffee shop, offering specialty coffees, teas, and other hot beverages, along with sodas, Italian gelato, and grab-and-go sandwiches and salads, will serve visitors who crave a pick-me-up on their way into or out of The Huntington.
Avery and Andy Barth Family Grove
A U-shaped covered loggia connects the admissions building, coffee shop, and store and frames a courtyard with tables and chairs. Deeply shaded by four stately, mature podocarpus trees, the Avery and Andy Barth Family Grove is a welcoming garden enhanced by the gentle tones of a trickling fountain, and serves as a casual meeting place to enjoy a beverage or snack from the coffee shop, read the visitor guide, or wait for others.