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Light and Lenses in Ruby City

The sparkling façade promoted by drastic unfolding angles has caught the attention of art and architecture enthusiasts worldwide. San Antonio's newest contemporary art museum, Ruby City, has been named one of Architectural Digests' "14 Most Anticipated Buildings of 2019". KFW is excited to have teamed on this unique project that uses light purposefully to bring the vision of Linda Pace to the public. Our Engineers were pleased to team on this unique project and we enjoyed working alongside Ruby City's stellar teammates to bring this dream to life.

KFW was happy to attend the Ruby City lecture at Trinity University detailing Texas' first brush with world-renound Architect, Sir David Ajdaye. He explained the conception and creation of the new building that will showcase 800 pieces of contemporary art from late collector and philanthropist, Linda Pace's collection. Ruby City, the 14,000-square foot exhibition hall, will open in the fall of 2019 and is free to the public.


The structure's iconic silhouette is a radical statement that purposefully contrasts the classic San Antonio skyline. Peeking above the neighbors, Ruby City's crystalline roofscape is angled specifically to showcase the concrete panels that sparkle with glass and mica aggregate. The tactility of building materials was chosen for engagement. Its red glimmer attracts your eye and invites you to graze your hand against the delicate concrete panels. Adjaye wanted guests to interact with the building as an experience in itself. The building's strange shape, Ajdaye also explained, is a tool that captures light for the artwork inside. Ajdaye mentioned it took many models to find the right fit. The building relies on its deformity to bring in light in a particular way as it plays with the frequencies of light for the art inside. Vaulted ceilings and strategically placed windows allow for natural or artificial light to adapt to what the exhibit requires.


Ruby City was built with a holistic experience as the main objective. Adjaye was interested in using the space in respect to the color of light and how it illuminates art while keeping in mind the experience of the museum-goers. The building incorporates 3 lenses, Ajdaye explained in the majority of his lecture, which are windows he placed throughout the exhibition hall to embellish your experience at Ruby City.


  • The first of which eyes the body of water flowing alongside the property. The museum neighbors the San Pedro Creek Culture Park, which will experience further development in Phase 2 of the public improvement initiative. Adjaye wanted to connect this museum with the surrounding San Antonio area by creating an open path between the Culture Park and the museum to draw in curious observers.


  • The second lens bodies the stairs, and as you climb, it gradually reveals the neighboring cityscape. Adjaye wanted to incorporate the urban scenery that helped shape much of what Ruby City turned out to be, including San Antonio's influence on Linda Pace's art collection. Adjaye incorporated a seat for you to pause and experience the view.


Pictured: Architect Sir David Adjaye & Mayor Ron Nirenberg enjoying lense #2 overlooking the City.


  • Lastly, the third lens allows you to observe the sculpture court just outside of Ruby City as a light interruption from your up-close observations. The sudden opening to the outdoors creates a space for reflection and offers a sneak-peek of the outdoor adventure that awaits you.


The museum was designed to offer a cyclical experience. Ajdaye explained he wanted the visitors to feel like they could loop through the building indefinitely, leaving only when they felt they were finished. Your experience at Ruby City is sure to be unique as the sun passes overhead and the bold angles manipluate the sunlight as you circulate through the exhibits. While Ruby City's inspiration was founded locally, visitors near and far are sure to find inspiration in the building's ever-changing atmosphere.

 LPF ENTRY EDITED c.Courtesy Adjaye Associates


Photos courtesy of Adjaye Associates, and @Ron_Nirenberg