Linda Pace Foundation constructs $16M Ruby City

    The Linda Pace Foundation started construction of the new Ruby City, a gallery space that is slated to open in 2019. (Photo, Christina Acosta)

    The Linda Pace Foundation has officially started construction on a new visual arts landmark for the city on Wednesday morning, expanding what the arts district has to offer.

    The 14,000-square-foot, modern crimson-hued two-story building will house the Foundation’s growing collection of more than 800 paintings, sculptures, installations and video works by contemporary artists from around the world. The building plays a crucial role in the rapidly growing Linda Pace Foundation contemporary art center, dubbed the Ruby City.

    The project is expected to be completed in late 2018 and will open in early 2019, a year that is full of celebrations for San Antonio’s tricentennial. Admission for visitors will be free.

    “It’s been a long time coming, and I am delighted to be able to point to this for the public to actually see the exhibition space today, what we refer to as Ruby City,” said Rick Moore, president of the Linda Pace Foundation.  “It’s not only about the legacy of her collection; perhaps more importantly it is to change the skyline of San Antonio. It was important for Linda that the building itself be iconic.”

    The entire $16 million project is privately funded by Linda Pace Foundation, which extends from South Flores Street to the San Pedro Creek. The building faces the San Pedro Creek Improvements Project, which will transform a concrete-lined waterway into a natural creek habitat and world-class linear park. The $175 million project is expected to complete the first phase in May 2018.

    Bexar County and the San Antonio River Authority, in coordination with the City of San Antonio, have undertaken this creek project. Visitors will enter the building from the west, facing San Pedro Creek, and enjoy views of an outdoor sculpture garden on the south side of the property and terraced banks leading to San Pedro Creek.

    “After we did the river, it gave us the confidence to tackle the creek and so [Bexar County] allocated an initial $125 million dollars,” continued Judge Nelson Wolff. “The creek is not just about water. It is about the confluence of the people who came and made San Antonio what it is. When you walk down the creek, you will know you are in San Antonio, Texas because the artists’ work is going to let you know that.”

    Ruby City also includes CHRISpark, built in 2005, a one-acre public green space named in memory of Pace’s son and will be located on the east facing view of CHRISpark. SPACE, the Linda Pace Foundation Gallery that opened to the public in 2014, presents special exhibitions and programming throughout the year.

    Plans reveal an ambitious building that gracefully nods to the past while embracing the distinct natural environment and playfully challenges expectations. The exterior of the structure will be clad in deep red panels of precast concrete with glass and mica aggregate that will shimmer in the light.

    The planes will be punctuated by lenses that will overlook CHRISpark as well as a new sculpture garden. Largely rectangular, the building will feature a dramatic rooftop of sloping angles and skylights that will rise to varying heights and echo cut-away spaces at the building’s base.

    The entrance plaza, formed by the building’s cantilevered structure and the ground floor lobby, shares the vibrant ruby color pattern establishing a dynamic and porous relationship between indoor and outdoor elements. A grand staircase takes visitors to a series of gallery spaces, which feature concrete floors with white walls and ceilings to allow the extensive collection to take center focus.

    The important result the trustee’s hope the visitors receive is an opinion of their own.

    “I hope they feel reflective, moved and touched in some way by the sentiment of the artwork, and by the beauty and the experience of the building,” said Kathryn Kanjo, trustee of Linda Pace Foundation. “I hope each visitor has their own personal experience of the space.”