Jerry Francl

The judges for the 1971 P/A Awards were united in opposition to the perceived excesses of previous years. They agreed to recognize no “structural gymnastics,” no “startling new directions,” and no projects that were too “articulated or contrived.”

The Mansfield Art Center exemplified their no-nonsense viewpoint. Designed by Cleveland-based architect Don Hisaka, the structure exhibits the geometrical volumes and crisp modern details for which his work was known. (Hisaka, who passed away in February, was born in California in 1927 and underwent internment with his family during World War II. He then went on to earn architecture degrees from the University of California, Berkeley, and Harvard University.)

The Mansfield Art Center is set within a grove of trees.
Jerry Francl The Mansfield Art Center is set within a grove of trees.

The art center occupies an 8-acre site at the intersection of two thoroughfares that lead into Mansfield’s downtown, where the center appears as an assemblage of crisp white volumes in its parklike setting. In the center’s main block, a modest gallery shares the first floor with various public and back-of-house facilities. A grand stair leads from this exhibition space to the main gallery, which embraces the entire second floor and is filled with indirect light from a long rooftop monitor.

Jerry Francl Exterior.

A linear one-story classroom wing accommodates divisible classrooms with clerestory lighting and glazed walls overlooking the surrounding landscape. The blank wall of the wing’s single-loaded corridor forms an un­broken white backdrop for outdoor displays near the art center’s main entrance.

Exterior, showing main entrance.
Jerry Francl Exterior, showing main entrance.

1971 P/A Awards Jury
Edward Larrabee Barnes
Ezra Ehrenkrantz
Ulrich Franzen
Myron Goldsmith
John A. Kouwenhoven

Exterior, rear façade.
Jerry Francl Exterior, rear façade.