One of Florida's leading arts education institutions, The Society of the Four Arts, can now offer an updated, contemporary campus and programs for the entire Palm Beach area, thanks to its latest addition, the Fitz Eugene Dixon Education Building. This multi-use, two-story facility resulted from the complete renovation of a 1920's, 20,000-square-foot, former junior high school building located at one corner of the Four Arts' expanded grounds.
Originally designed in Palm Beach's classic Spanish Mediterranean revival style, the Center offers modern, flexible classrooms, a computer lab, an art classroom, a cooking demonstration studio, a lounge, a multi-purpose hall seating 75, an artist-in-residence apartment, and administrative offices.
The crucial first move was relocating the Center's main entrance to what had been the back of the building so that it opens onto the rest of the campus and adjacent sculpture garden. Originally, all of the major entrances of the building were on the street sides. With this reorientation, the new grand entrance is marked by a formal, bronze canopy and a large vertical window that extends upwards to the roof line. That, plus safer pedestrian and vehicular circulation, gives the campus new energy.
The Center's interiors take their cue from the classic Addison Mizner residences and public buildings that give Palm Beach its identity. Like many of these buildings, the center now has a one-story entrance that opens on to a light-filled, two-story lobby with a grand stairway connecting the two floors. Visitors proceed to a circular reception desk that gives staff complete views of activities on the two wings.
The Center incorporates a similar palette of materials as Mizner's buildings: stucco on the exterior and on the interior, stone, french limestone, white oak on the walls and ceilings and satin bronze for the fixtures and details. But unlike the 1920's interiors, the Center has a fresh, pared-down aesthetic that can be seen in the spaces, furnishings, custom light fixtures and signage. It makes visitors feel at home, while attuned to new possibilities.