Plans have recently been unveiled for a new institution dedicated to Mayan culture to be constructed in Guatemala City. Designed by Swiss firm Harry Gugger Studio in collaboration with Boston company over,under, the building is part of an attempt to establish a new cultural hub within the city. Construction is set to begin in 2015.
Re-situating the ancient American architectural vocabulary within a contemporary syntax, the mass of rectilinear masonry almost resembles a Mayan structure crafted through the lens of Minecraft. Much of the over 640,000 square feet of floor space is given over to large open expanses. Staggered blocks of stone border a central courtyard and act as the foundation for staircases that provide access to elevated galleries.
The bulk of the building rests atop smaller rectangular bases, thus enabling circulation beneath its structure. Its exterior is punctured by a pattern of screens and several irregular, more extensive openings that invite Guatemala’s warm climate into the museum’s interior spaces.
The rooftop functions as an outdoor exhibition venue and also contains a restaurant and viewing terraces. It will collect and filter the rain that frequents the tropical region, a process that mirrors one pioneered by the people to whom the museum is dedicated.
The new building will be located at the northern corner of a public park within view of the Guatemalan capital’s airport. Set to be completed in 2017, the Museo Maya de América will join a children’s museum and a museum of contemporary art as institutions already found on the site. Already, $60 million has been budgeted for the construction effort.