The Confucius Institute

LOCATION: Lexington, Kentucky

SIZE: 16,000 SQ FT / 2 stories

FEATURES:

200-person multipurpose room, calligraphy & crafts studios, 2 classrooms, Tai Chi studio, offices, library and calligraphy plaza

CLIENT: University of Kentucky, Confucius Institute

TYPE: New Construction

SUMMARY:

Balancing utilitarian function with cultural heritage, this building is itself a teaching tool. The design is intended to assist the institute with its mission of introducing other cultures to China’s traditions, beauty and value.


Interview with Rick Ekhoff


WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND WITH THE LITERATURE AND CULTURE THAT INSPIRED THIS BUILDING?
EOP has been involved with projects throughout China for the past 3 years and this has given me the opportunity to travel the country extensively and experience its culture and natural beauty.

DESCRIBE THE ROLE OF COLOR IN THIS SPACE.
We wanted to emphasize harmony with nature. So the colors and textures of nature are omnipresent in this space. In addition, in Chinese culture, the color red signifies joy, good fortune, and vitality. The building’s exterior includes two red accented window frame features that represent traditional lanterns.

YOU’VE STATED IN THE PAST THAT THE BUILDING ITSELF IS A TEACHING TOOL. EXPAND ON THAT.
An essential role of the project was to introduce a visitor to the culture of China. This experience begins with the philosophical principals of fen shui. The building is oriented north to south and interacts in harmony with its surrounding environment. Upon entering the building, the visitor emerges into an open lobby that provides an immediate visual connection to the various functions. The building was designed to provide a sense of journey as one moves through the spaces.


“An essential role of the project was to introduce a visitor to the culture of China.”

EOP_Work_Confucius_Night


WHAT PHYSICAL CUES DID YOU TAKE FROM YOUR EXPERIENCE IN CHINA?
The abstract composition of the exterior architecture includes textured precast panels that are arranged in varying vertical patterns representing the crevasses and jutting granite peaks of the scenic Yellow Mountains of the Huangshan Mountain Range. In addition, where the gesture created by the panels bending to conform to the roof line – I saw this as symbolizing the Ying Ke Pine’s welcoming gesture.

On the south façade of the building is a cluster of metal tubes in a variety of diameters and heights that act as a sunscreen and symbolize bamboo. Portions of the building are faced with traditional Chinese grey brick reminiscent of that which is found on the historic Hutong’s courtyard houses. Some of these surfaces will be patterned and reminiscent of Beijing’s Caochangdi Artist Village where the play of shadows brings the wall alive.

Earth mounds symbolize China mountain terrain; gravel walk patterns and stone benches introduce traditional Chinese textures and elements of nature; plantings of rice and native grasses are used as landscape materials and pronounced geometric terracing of contours and grades are utilized to reflect the hillside terraces of China.


EOP_Work_Confucius_Interior1