designed by preeminent architect Sir David Adjaye
Ruby City was designed by architect Sir David Adjaye. Credit: Courtesy / Adjaye Associates

Linda Pace relied on her dreams as a constant resource to inform her waking life. Much of her art, including her many “Dream Drawings,” and sculptures such as “Igloo” were originally dream images. Ruby City, also taken from a dream, was one of her last wishes, and it will open to the public in 2018.

The Linda Pace Foundation announced their plans for the new building, designed by Adjaye and Associates, on Friday. The 14,000 sq. ft. building on the corner of Camp and South Flores streets will house selections from Pace’s growing collection of more than 800 paintings, sculptures, installations and video works.

Adjaye is a world-renowned British architect, born in Africa, whose latest project is the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, located on the mall in Washington, D.C. Before her death in 2007, Pace shared the sketch of her dream with Adjaye. They worked together on the initial design of the building, which will be next to Pace’s earlier developments, Camp Street, a residential complex, and CHRISpark, a green space in memory of her son, Chris.

Janet Flohr, who serves on the board of Artpace, remembers being with Pace on an Artpace trip to London in 2006. They took a hardhat tour of Adjaye’s Rivington Place, and “that’s when she decided to use him. She was enchanted with his work, and his attention to finishes was beautiful.”

The future site of the Ruby City Museum. Photo by Wendy Weil Atwell.
The future site of the Ruby City Museum. Photo by Wendy Weil Atwell.

Pace was also drawn to Adjaye’s work because he was an artist’s architect, working with artists on projects such as Olafur Eliasson’s pavilion and Chris Ofili’s house and studio in London, explained Kathryn Kanjo, who directed Artpace for seven years and now serves as a trustee of the Linda Pace Foundation. She liked “how he thinks about visitors experiencing his architecture, how one is going to be moved and transformed.” In contrast to showy, power-based, ego-driven architecture, Adjaye’s focus is on the visitor.

“It was always Linda’s dream to revive this part of San Antonio, and it’s slowly coming true,” Flohr said. “This would be her 70th birthday year.” The area is part of a growing art scene along South Flores Street and the Lone Star Brewery, the home of Second Saturdays. The current exhibition space for the Linda Pace Foundation, SPACE, is also located next to CHRISpark.

The building will open out onto a sculpture garden that terraces down to San Pedro Creek, which the City of San Antonio plans to make into a park, revitalizing it with foot and bike paths that will connect with downtown.

The San Pedro Creek. Photo by Wendy Weil Atwell.
The San Pedro Creek. Photo by Wendy Weil Atwell.

Linda Pace Foundation is run by trustees including Kanjo, Rick Moore, Anne Morgan and Jan Jarboe Russell, and they are currently searching for a new director, who will curate the art for the building. In November, 2014, the foundation sold a Gerhard Richter piece in the collection at a Christie’s auction in New York. The $15 million sales price will help fund the $16 million Ruby City project.

The 10,000 sq. ft. dedicated to exhibition space is only big enough to show 10% of Pace’s collection. The majority of the space will house relatively long-term installations, while a smaller project space will house temporary shows. The building’s second story will contain three large galleries that have different characteristics of light, volumes and views.

Pace met Adjaye through British filmmaker Isaac Julien. Julien was an International Artist-in-Residence at ArtPace in 1999, and the first artist, as Pace described in “Dreaming Red,” that made her want to add not just one piece, but all of his work to her collection. “I have always responded to expressive work that resonates on many levels: personally, politically, aesthetically, and emotionally” wrote Pace. The foundation continues to acquire a couple of pieces each year that deepen the collection. Recent acquisitions include works by Isaac Julien, Shazia Sikander, Cornelia Parker and Dario Robleto,

“Linda was fearless in her collecting,” Kanjo said. “Things could interest her for their beauty, such as their material and their formal qualities such as patterns. Or she could be taken by ideas. She thought of artists as mapmakers, and she looked to art to find meaning and understand the world we live in. The art she selected was very often connected to issues of today’s culture, of gender and politics … it’s rich stuff.”

For Pace, art promised discovery and revelation, and so did her dreams.

“My dreams became my nightly compass, my way of listening to my inner authority rather than allowing external events to continually shape my life,” stated Pace in “Dreaming Red.”

A view of the future site of the Ruby City Museum. Photo by Wendy Weil Atwell.
A view of the future site of the Ruby City Museum. Photo by Wendy Weil Atwell.

Ruby City recalls the fantastical Emerald city of Oz, but for Pace, red has always been deeply symbolic. “Beginning in around 1997,” she wrote in “Dreaming Red.”

“I noticed the persistence of the color red in my dreams and began collecting red objects that I stored in my studio. This prompted me to think about all the things that red symbolized: passion, anger, vitality, life, blood, desire, fire, wisdom, authenticity, sexuality, repressed emotion, the process of making art.”

“Immersed,” an exhibition curated by Annette DiMeo Carlozzi, opens on Oct. 3 at SPACE.

*Top image: Rendering of Ruby City, the new building for the Linda Pace Foundation. Courtesy of Adjaye Associates.

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Wendy Weil Atwell

Wendy Weil Atwell is a writer living in San Antonio, Texas. She received her MA in Art History and Criticism from the University of Texas at San Antonio in 2002. Atwell is the author of The River Spectacular...