Frank Gehry has unveiled renderings of its shortlisted entry for the competition to design the National Art Museum of China (NAMOC), the predestined showstopper of Beijing’s new cultural district. Gehry was shortlisted alongside fellow Pritzker Prize winners Jean Nouvel and Zaha Hadid for the high-profile project. Gehry’s submission incorporates transparent cladding, an interior comprised of lofty, geometric courtyards evocative of pagodas and temples, and a layout that would accommodate nearly 12 million annual visitors.
In acknowledging the globalization of art and its role in connecting the world’s various cultures, the firm’s plans seeks to address the concept of 21st century Chinese architecture. Gehry Partners has created a unique design tailored to the museum’s framework, as the structure will be situated facing the central axis of Olympic Park, over the course of the three competition stages.
To convey delicate movement, the firm considered glass as a facade material, and in doing so developed a new material—translucent stone—that grants the building an imperial appearance suitable for a national museum. The translucent stone, which is part of the inventive sustainable facade system that integrates a ventilated airspace, allows the structure to efficiently transform for the seasons, festivals, diverse exhibitions, and as a canvas for artists.
The renderings reveal four dispersed entrances at each corner and expose a structure that can accommodate a record number of visitors. A formal entry resembling a Chinese temple is positioned in the center of the west facade. The interiors are organized around large public spaces linked vertically by escalators. Visible only from the inside, the spaces are inspired by temples and establish a proper connection between the shapes of the building facade and the interior.
The project is currently part of Los Angeles’ Museum of Contemporary Art exhibition called A New Sculpturalism: Contemporary Architecture from Southern California.