One of Florida's leading arts education institutions, The Society of 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 landmarked, 1920's, 20,000 sf former public junior high school building located at a highly visible corner of the Four Arts' expanded campus.
Originally designed in the classic Palm Beach Spanish Mediterranean revival style, the Center offers modern, flexible classrooms, an art classroom, a digital lab, a demonstration kitchen, a lounge, a multipurpose hall seating 75 people, an artist-in-residence apartment and administrative offices.
The crucial first move was relocating the 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 to the building were on the street sides. With this reorientation, a new grand entrance is marked by a formal, bronze canopy and a large vertical window that extends upward to the roof line. That, plus safer pedestrian and vehicular circulation, gives the campus new energy.
The new interiors take their cue from the historic Addison Mizner residences and public buildings of the 1920's that gave Palm Beach its identity. Like many of his buildings, the Center now has a one-story entrance canopy that opens onto a light-filled, two-story atrium with a grand stairway connecting the two floors. Visitors proceed to an oval reception desk that give staff complete view of the two wings.
The Center incorporates a similar palette of materials as those historic Mizner buildings: stucco on the exterior and French limestone, white oak walls and ceilings and satin bronze for fixtures and details on the interior. But unlike these well known 1920's interiors, the Center now has a fresh, pared-down contemporary aesthetics that can be seen in all of the spaces, furnishings, custom designed bronze walk sconces and signage.
Visitors feel at home, while attuned to new possibilities.