In 1976, the late Bill Kimball renovated the dilapidated Eley Garage on Park Avenue and opened the Kimball Art Center. Prior to being a place for vehicles, the building was a place to park horses. Miners would ride their horses into town and leave them at the stable while they headed into the mines on rail cars.
For many decades, Kimball Art Center worked to retrofit its programming into this existing space, which was largely incompatible with the creative process. Given the building’s historical use, it’s safe to assume ventilation for a kiln or temperature-controlled rooms for valuable artwork were never a thought in the original layout!
As the town’s population grew and Park City became known as more than simply a ski town, extra space was needed to accommodate locals and visitors longing for a cultural and creative experience. Space in the old Kimball Art Center was so limited, at one time, art classes were being held in employee offices and bathrooms were being used for storage!
These space constraints were one of the reasons Kimball Art Center attempted to redesign the Park Avenue building in 2011, hiring the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) to create a modern yet functional art center. While the firm’s design was considered an architectural marvel by many; ultimately it could not be condensed to meet the strict historical building codes along Main Street. As a result, Kimball Art Center’s governing board voted to sell the building and move the center to its current spot at 1401 Kearns Boulevard, which sits on the site of the city’s future arts and culture district.