The Art Cave is located on a 17-acre site in Napa Valley, California. The property includes an active vineyard, the original farmhouse built in 1878, and a dispersed collection of large outdoor artworks and landscape pieces. The clients have an extensive collection of contemporary art, developed over 25 years. Many works are very large in scale, technologically complex and demanding of highly specific installation conditions.
The cave’s presence is articulated by weathering steel entry portals incised into the hillside. In contrast to the farmhouse, which is a symbol of the domestication of the landscape, the cave’s condition as architecture is ambiguous: its scale and form are indeterminate. The portals, serving as the transition between landscape and cave, are sculptural and abstract.
The spaces of the art cave are designed to complement the domestically-scaled display spaces of the farmhouse. The inherently curvaceous geometry of the cave is exploited to create a space lacking the familiar architectural cues of corner, edge and detail. This zone of the middle scale is occupied by art. Inside the seemingly boundless space of the cave, the encounter with art occurs in a context unencumbered by traditional functions or associations.
The design takes advantage of tunneling construction techniques developed for the wine industry to create a column-free interior volume. The cave provides a naturally tempered environment and takes advantage of the geologic conditions of the site; bedrock weathered to residual soil provides ideal conditions for tunneling. The plastic character of the cave is expressed in the intersections of tunnel vaults and the sculpted pockets washing the interior surfaces with light.
AIA California: Honor Award in Design Advancement
Illuminating Engineering Society of New York: Lumen Award Chicago Athenenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design: International Award
PROJECT TEAM: Timothy Bade, Jane Stageberg, Martin Cox, Andrew Skey
Tom Leader Studio, Landscape Architect
Nancy Batt and Associates, Project Mgmt. Consultant
Behler Construction, General Contractor
Endres Ware, Structural Engineer
Axiom Engineers, Mechanical Engineer
Ray E. Slaughter and Associates, Electrical Engineer
Renfro Design Group, Lighting Consultant
Thea Westreich Art Advisory Services, Art Advisor
Condor Earth Technologies, Cave Engineer
Magorian Mine Services, Cave Driller
Cinquini and Passarino, Surveyor
View of Main Gallery | Photo: Drew Altizer
Exterior Aprpoach | Photo: Jason Schmidt
View of Main Entry Portal | Photo: Jason Schmidt
Photo: Andy Ryan
Main Gallery showing Adjustable Wall Bra by Vito Acconci | Photo: Jason Schmidt
View of East Side Gallery | Photo: Jason Schmidt
View of West Side Gallery with works by Bonvicini and Tiravanija | Photo: Florian Holzherr
View of Main Gallery | Photo: Florian Holzherr
Detail of Main Gallery Ceiling | Photo: Jason Schmidt
View of Main Gallery with mural by Rirkrit Tiravanija, 2011 Exhibition