Posts tagged with "Adaptive Reuse":
Rather than donating artworks to large, existing institutions, it is becoming more and more common for wealthy art collectors to create their own museums for displaying their extensive collections.
In Los Angeles, we have the Getty Museum; the Broad Museum; the Hammer Museum; and the Norton Simon Museum, for example. This arrangement allows the collector to assure that the works he or she acquired will be displayed in a manner that they control and won’t get lost within a much larger institution.
In New York, Ronald S. Lauder opened the Neue Galerie, and of course, in 1959 further up Fifth Avenue, the Guggenheim family opened their museum, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Sometimes these museums are very successful and draw visitors for years after their initial opening.
Adding to the trend, the Maurice & Paul Marciano Art Foundation (MAF) recently opened in Los Angeles to display some of the 1,500 art objects that the brothers have collected. The Marciano brothers made their fortune by creating and marketing Guess Jeans. For the last seven years, they’ve been working closely with MAF Deputy Director Jamie G. Manné to acquire a very diverse and often innovative collection. It was always their intent to create their own museum and four years ago the artist Alex Israel noticed that the large Scottish Rite Masonic Temple on Wilshire Boulevard was for sale. He told his friend—Manné—who also thought it had great potential. Manné told Maurice and he decided to buy it for $8 million.
The Masonic Temple was designed by artist and architect Millard Sheets. It opened in 1961 to serve the growing population of the Masons of California, a fraternal order whose mission was to “foster personal growth and improve the lives of others.” The Masons had noble goals but maintained a very private organization, which is reflected in the Millard Sheets design. It is a large and imposing 110,000-square-foot travertine structure on Wilshire Boulevard with essentially no windows; in other words, a big white box.
Three years ago the Marciano’s retained architect Kulapat Yantrasast and his New York and Los Angeles–based firm wHY to convert this white elephant into a museum that would engage the community, welcome the public, and display a wide range of art objects in a variety of media. wHY was an informed choice—they have extensive experience designing museums both new and old, including the Grand Rapids Museum in Michigan; the Speed Museum in Louisville, Kentucky; the Pomona College Studio Art Hall in California; and the interiors for the Art Institute of Chicago and Harvard Art Museums.
The design approach within their practice is based on collaboration, both externally and internally. Externally they work with the owner and engage the community to develop their design approach. Internally they integrate the firm’s four studios, each of which is named for its focus: “buildings,” “objects,” “grounds,” and “ideas.” Yantrasast said, “We intentionally work together from the beginning; architects, landscape architects, planners, and interior designers. We create a group of thought leaders, with the ideas workshop as the glue.” Yantrasast sees himself as the conductor of a group of “the best musicians.”
With MAF the goal was to respect the architecture of Millard Sheets while transforming his very private, enclosed box into a welcoming and engaging environment to experience contemporary art within. For the most part, they have achieved their goals with a few shortcomings.
wHY created a sculpture garden courtyard to welcome visitors who may approach by car from the rear or as pedestrians. This works well. The entry foyer is flanked by a bookstore and lounge, leading to the lobby, where they have saved and restored two beautiful light fixtures and three elegant elevator cabs.
The galleries comprise essentially two levels and a mezzanine to display the very diverse Marciano art collection. On the ground floor wHY converted the former 2,000-seat auditorium into a spacious 13,600-square-foot exhibition hall, with all interior lighting; essentially a vast black box that includes 65 pieces by the L.A.-based artist Jim Shaw. The former stage has been transformed into a dramatic sunken sculpture court, with Adrian Villar Rojas's reinterpretation of Michelangelo’s David lying in repose.
While the mezzanine is also dark and filled with video art, the top floor holds the most dramatic spaces. Yantrasast removed the hung ceiling from this floor to reveal the bold structure that supports the roof, creating a large 12,000-square-foot gallery to display major pieces of the Marciano collection. By stripping away a portion of its rear travertine elevation and replacing it with glass, the gallery is filled with waves of natural north light. This move also offers a pleasant promenade overlooking the city and the famous Hollywood sign. One unfortunate detail is that a beautiful Millard Sheets mosaic mural has been preserved, but a full height wall has been erected only six feet in front of it, making it virtually impossible to truly appreciate Sheets’ artwork.Yantrasast believes that architects who design art museums are a “matchmaker between the art and the people,” and that the building “must support the art,” he said. It’s a delicate balance creating inviting spaces to exhibit art and making buildings that enhance their environment. In essence, wHY’s architecture becomes a subtle, quiet partner and does not dominate the art. At the MAF, generally wHY has succeeded as a “matchmaker.” They have created flexible, spacious galleries to display the extensive and diverse art. The inaugural exhibition, labeled Unpacking: The Marciano Collection and curated by Philipp Kaiser, formerly with L.A.’s Museum of Contemporary Art, works well in the newly re-imagined building and includes the work of 44 artists. Maurice Marciano seemed quite pleased with the result. He said, “We’ve been really blessed to give back to the artists’ community, and to share our passion with everybody.” In an ironic turn of events, the MAF has given new life to the Masonic Temple and extended the Masons’ goal to “improve the life of others.”
For 47 years, the Lakeview Pantry on Chicago’s North Side has provided for the poor and hungry. Through food distribution and self-help initiatives and programs, the pantry has become a staple of its immediate neighbors as well as the greater Chicago community. When it came to establishing its first permanent space, the much-lauded organization turned to local firm Wheeler Kearns.
Originally known as the People’s Pantry of Lakeview, the organization was spread out among a variety of buildings throughout the neighborhood, often with administrations and operations in separate spaces. An adaptive reuse project, the new Lakeview Pantry brings the entire operation under one roof a few blocks from Lake Michigan, nestled up against the overhead L tracks.
Wheeler Kearns’s design for the 7,500-square-foot two-story space brings together the Pantry’s food distribution and social services programs, as well as the administrative staff, with connected spaces and natural light. The lower level includes the waiting area with a distribution counter, walk-in freezer-cooler, dry storage, and sorting room. The goal of the public face of project was to match the Pantry’s own mission by providing a dignified space for those in need. The bright front space serves over 8,000 people a year, with over 800 tons of food distributed in the form of 14-day supplies, so the front of house sees a lot of traffic and a lot of food.
Bathed in sunlight, a wood staircase leads to the upper level. Efficiently laid out offices fill the majority of the upstairs. Much-needed private meeting spaces, a conference room, a shared lunchroom, and open staff office space are lit from above and from the two ends of the thin building.
While the project was only recently finished, it has already been recognized with the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Award for Architectural Excellence in Community Design, an annual award given to outstanding built community-design projects in Chicago.
“When you work with an organization whose mission is so powerful and important, and they approach that mission with such vigor and earnestness, it is pretty easy to get behind it,” said project architect Danny Wick when he received the Driehaus award at the end of February. “Asking for help can be a pretty undignified thing to have to do. To try and bring a dignified experience to that, and recognize that good design is not only reserved for the wealthy, but that everybody can gain from design, was always the goal.”