MILLIØN-dollar Pei Day

MILLIØNS wins competition for new cafe at Syracuse’s Everson Museum of Art

MILLIØNS’s design for the renovation of the Everson Museum of Art’s atrium. (Courtesy MILLIØNS)

MILLIØNS, the young Los Angeles–based firm headed by Zeina Koreitem and John May, has won the competition to design a cafe at Syracuse’s I.M. Pei-designed Everson Museum of Art.

Thus ends an invited competition led by Michael Speaks and Kyle Miller of Syracuse University that solicited proposals from around the world before narrowing the field to four semifinalists, which included FreelandBuck, NATURALBUILD, and Norman Kelley.

Rendering of the renovated cafe at the Everson Museum of Art

MILLIØNS’s rendering of the renovated cafe at the Everson Museum of Art (Courtesy MILLIØNS)

In addition to housing a cafe and event space, the renovation will also display selections from a 3,000 piece ceramic collection donated by artist and collector Louise Rosenfield. Renderings show a double-height feature wall made of open shelving with pottery arranged informally throughout, as well as display tables composed of clusters of inverted pyramids, a potential nod to the monumental geometries of Pei. The translucent wall of shelving will visually connect the museum’s atrium to the cafe on an upper level.

Besides referring to Pei’s work, the design also evokes some of MILLIØNS’s earlier creations. Renderings of the new cafe show a ridged, mirrored wall and an ethereal bath of colors, as though the room were filtered through dichroic glass, which the duo used in the New York flagship for shoe retailer Jack Erwin. The design is centered around these few, big moves; detailing is sparse and most materials in the rendering are left abstract and flat, perhaps in keeping with the Everson building’s austere forms.

Pei, who died earlier this year, designed the museum’s late-modern, brutalist home in the 1960s with the idea that the structure would sit like a sculpture on the surrounding plaza. It features a pinwheel plan and cantilevered galleries clad in brushed concrete, all signature features of the time. The building, which celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, was a relatively early project for the architect.

The renovated spaces are scheduled to open in 2020.

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