Posts tagged with "Art Museums":

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Updated: Peter Zumthor unveils new images and concepts for LACMA replacement

Swiss architect Peter Zumthor and Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) director Michael Govan have unveiled a slew of new images and design concepts for a scheme aiming to replace Los Angeles's largest art museum with a new 368,000-square foot complex. The plans were revealed last night during a joint talk delivered by Zumthor and Govan to a packed audience at the Brown Auditorium on the LACMA campus, where Govan explained that the project sought to re-signify the museum experience and undermine the traditional museum typology by creating a structure with “no back, no front.” The efforts, according to Govan and Zumthor, are aimed at granting prominence to art objects more equally, instead of relegating certain collections to the museum’s nether regions, as is currently the case. The plans build on a previously-released—and much-derided scheme—that aims to create a large, continuous gallery elevated high above the museum’s site in a structure that would span across Wilshire Boulevard to the south. The sinuous, oil-slick inspired structure—an homage to the La Brea Tar Pits next door—is lifted above the ground on a series of seven pavilion towers that house public galleries, conservation spaces, circulation, ground level cafes and restaurants, and an amphitheater. The pavilions stretch up into the levitated mass to create a complex set of interlocking gallery spaces. According to Zumthor, the project contains four types of galleries along this level: so-called meander galleries along the periphery, with smaller “pocket galleries” located throughout and grouped “cluster galleries” and “tower galleries” contained within the pavilions. The “tower galleries” in the scheme will be located within tall, triple-height light cannons meant to funnel sunlight into the galleries. The design is capped by a massive, continuously overhanging roof that would shield the museum’s collection from southern sun; black, retractable drapes are to be installed along eastern and western exposures to control for low-angle solar glare. Zumthor expressed a strong desire to create a museum from “real materials, not sheetrock,” and has proposed board-formed concrete surfaces for the gallery interiors. The building’s exterior—in fact, the entire building, generally speaking—will be made of concrete, as well. This material, depicted in the new images in mud-colored tones, is meant to evoke the Texas Limestone cladding of the nearby Renzo Piano–designed Broad Contemporary Art Museum and A.C. Martin–designed May Company building. In describing the project, Zumthor explained that his scheme originated with the traditional, non-purpose-built art museum: spaces originally constructed as homes for elite art patrons that brought in light via peripheral windows. This “side light,” according to Zumthor, creates dynamic conditions that allow patrons to “make personal discoveries” within artworks and drove the concept’s organization of small, oddly-shaped galleries with various connections to the outdoors. A preliminary timeline for the project aims to finish the project by 2023, in time for the opening of a new subway extension along Wilshire Boulevard. For more info, see the LACMA website.
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The Arata Isozaki–renovated Bass Museum of Art scheduled to open fall 2017

After almost two years of construction, The Bass, Miami’s museum of contemporary art, is scheduled to open this fall. The project was initially scheduled to be completed December 2016 to coincide with Art Basel, but was forced to extend the construction timeline to accommodate the extra care needed to revive a historic structure.

The original building was constructed in the 1930s and was designed by Miami architect Russell Pancoast. It was first built as the Miami Beach Public Library and Art Center—considered South Florida’s first public space dedicated to art—and was renamed The Bass Museum of Art in 1964. Soon after, it was added to the National Register as “an exemplar of Art Deco architecture [sic].”

In 2001, the building underwent its first expansion at the hands of Arata Isozaki & Associates, a Tokyo-based architecture firm known for its work on projects such as the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles and the Olympic Stadium in Barcelona. The renovation added a wing to the building and a second level to house 16,000 square feet of exhibition space.

The museum board soon realized that it would need more room, and began plans for a second renovation, which broke ground in 2015. The team for this renovation includes Arata Isozaki & Associates and David Gauld, a consulting architect in New York, in addition to Jonathan Caplan of Project-Space, who redesigned the interior aesthetic of the museum.

The new additions build on the existing footprint of the structure, creating three additional galleries for a total of six. A creativity center will be housed in a new education wing, quadrupling the museum’s previous education space. The interior renovations are the most considerable in the building’s history, involving the reconfiguration of two courtyards to accommodate a new museum store and cafe. Though the changes alter some of the existing footprint, they will also allow visitors to once again use the original entrance of the building from Collins Park.

“[The] historic building is of real significance to our community, and one of the few structures of its kind on Miami Beach,” said Debbie Tackett, preservation and design manager for the Miami Beach Planning Department, in a statement. “The fact that the museum is striving to expand its exhibition and educational spaces while maintaining the integrity of the existing architecture makes this an example of resilient preservation.”

The Bass museum is scheduled to reopen fall 2017.

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Portugal’s MAAT could become the world’s most exciting venue for art and architecture

The Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (MAAT) is a new exhibition space created for EDP, a Portuguese foundation in Lisbon. The building opened in October of 2016 and just created its first curated exhibition. I had an opportunity to visit its exhibit Utopia/Dystopia: A Paradigm Shift in Art and Architecture and it provided an opportunity to see how the new structure functions and is being programmed. Designed by British architect Amanda Levete's firm AL_A, The MAAT operates as a ‘Kunsthalle,’ with no permanent collection of artifacts, but as a space to promote and stage cross-cultural or interdisciplinary experimentation. The building has several functional exhibition galleries, but its focus is an enormous, 13,000-square-foot, centralized elliptical space, ringed with steep inclined viewing ramps made for theatrical performances and temporary installations. The ramps are meant as viewing platforms but the steepness of the slope propels viewers down and then up and around the central ellipse. This constant movement by viewers can allow them—if curated properly—to be part of the action or to become the event itself. It's an interactive public space for an age more familiar with digital and VR images on a screen than in a physical gallery. The low, long profile of The MAAT's exterior appears like a slightly opened oyster shell set in the mud along the facing Tagus river and estuary. If one imagines the shell opened ever so slightly, this is where Levete has placed the entrance into the building. Up a curving set of long, narrow steps, with a hovering deep overhang meant to capture the dappled reflection of the river, the public is pulled in a short entrance into the lobby and then into the grand open performance ellipse. Its facade is covered in 15,000 “crackle glazed three-dimensional” tiles that give it a fish scale like dimension on the cityscape and honors the city’s many tiled facades. When these ceramic rectangles catch beams of natural dappled or artificial light the building magically glows like a light bulb. But it is not simply the facade of the building that comes alive through refraction. This is a building meant to perform on every surface. It is, in some ways, as much landscape as it is an enclosure and thus a structure meant to perform. The term ‘performative architecture’ stands for several older and newer ideas in architecture and the design of urban public space. If by the term one means buildings created to encourage active public engagement and themselves actively participate like Roman baroque urban experiments or even worlds fairs, then Levete’s building is an unqualified success. It becomes a pedestrian promenade and visitors areg meant to walk along, onto, or over its tiled sloping roofscape like Foreign Office Architect’s 2003 Yokohama terminal. Last week's opening programmed performances to take place on every surface of the structure. It started with a musician ‘playing’ the ceramic tile facade with a vibraphonist's soft mallets and group of musicians dancing and singing on the top step of the covered front entry platform. The central oval space featured an opening night performance by Mexican artist Hector Zamora that featured crews of migrant laborers destroying a fleet of old unusable (but beautiful) fishing boats as a protest against the disappearance of a way of life represented by the small craft. The highlight of the first-day performance featured O Terceiro Paraiso, choreographed by Italian Michelangelo Pistoletto on the sloping roofscape public space. The Italian arte povera and ‘action’ artist theorized a potential new utopia—in accordance with the exhibition opening in the galleries downstairs—that asked several hundred participants to hold hands in three labyrinths made of a single line that would create a new third utopia from the two earlier ones that he theorized as an everyday 'Gesamtkunstwerk.' The performance was pushed along by the large sloping facade of the roof that stands as an open space above the riverside promenade and facing back to the city in the distance. It should be pointed out that the Levete renderings show the roofscape with a whiplash-like tail flying over the adjacent freeway to the roof of The MAAT. This freeway acts as a wall that cuts off Lisbon from its waterfront as if it were lifted out from any number of American cities. When (and if) this tail ramp is finished it will bring the city across the freeway and onto the roofscape and be the performative space the museums want to be for their home city. Levette has delivered a potentially valuable new focus and hub for the Portuguese capital but it remains for the MAAT director Pedro Gandhao and his curatorial staff to realize the spatial and performative qualities of the museum. They have the opportunity to make this one the most exciting venues in the world that programs architecture and technology alongside art.
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The Contemporary Austin gets a striking new rooftop addition

In December of last year, New York–based Lewis Tsurumaki Lewis Architects (LTL) completed its renovation of The Contemporary Austin-Jones Center which, among other improvements, includes the freshly inaugurated Moody Rooftop pavilion. The $3 million dollar renovation responds to the enormous growth of the institution and its popular public programming as well as the increasing scale of Austin’s architecture. This project is one in a series of designs that the organization has commissioned in recent years including the ongoing master planning of its sculpture park at Laguna Gloria by Cambridge, Massachusetts–based landscape architecture firm Reed-Hilderbrand. Since the museum opened its downtown location in 2010, the roof deck has been a central feature of its public engagement strategy and often hosts outdoor film screenings and music performances. This upgrade allows The Contemporary to hold larger events with more control over the open air roof space. LTL designed a deceptively thin roof canopy that hovers 23 feet above the original structure with stark white curtains that can be drawn to enclose the space for year-round use. The museum also moved its administrative office to Laguna Gloria, thereby allowing for Jones Center to double its ground floor area for exhibitions and upgrade its mechanical systems to accommodate a more diverse range of art installations. The building is situated along Congress Avenue, Austin's central thoroughfare, with a direct view to the State Capitol, making the museum one of the city’s most visible cultural institutions. Coincidental with the re-opening of the museum was the installation of a text artwork by artist Jim Hodges that wraps the edge of the roof. The piece consists of 27 seven-foot-tall block letters reading “With Liberty and Justice for All” lit from behind and encased with iridescent mirrored surfaces. The eponymously titled piece is in the public gaze at all times and will reportedly remain in place for three years, though the architect re-designed the roof to potentially mount the letters permanently. Earlier this year, directly following the presidential inauguration, both the building and the art were the backdrop for the Women’s March in Austin, underscoring the social responsibility that cultural institutions have to shape a city’s identity. With cooperation between distinctive architectural design and timely public artwork, the museum aims to vault itself from a sometimes scrappy nonprofit to a growing powerhouse among national art institutions.
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The SO-IL and BCJ–designed Manetti Shrem Museum at UC Davis transforms light and shadow

The Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Museum of Art on the University of California, Davis campus, designed by associated architects Bohlin Cywinski Jackson (BCJ) and SO-IL and built by construction company Whiting-Turner, opened in late 2016.

The project was developed through a particularly strict procurement process that required designers to include builders on their teams. Those teams were expected to hold tight to a firm budget—$30 million—and deliver a design with balanced aesthetic, functional, and budgetary requirements. Ryan Keerns, associate at BCJ and project manager on the project said, “This process of design-build competition gave the client confidence that a builder had vetted the aesthetic and functional ambitions of the project and stood behind their ability to deliver the project within the parameters provided.”

The team did that and more, creating a 30,000-square-foot building that uses a range of social spaces to divide up more buttoned-up aspects of programming. The approach results in what amounts to a fully public space that does triple duty as art museum, office, and classroom. Those functions are articulated as a series of scattered, interconnected pavilions arranged in slipshod configuration. The whole thing is capped by an undulating, 50,000-square-foot perforated and folded aluminum screen canopy developed with help from facade design consulting firm Front, Inc. and fabricated from off-the-shelf components, including 952 honed-aluminum infill beams and 4,765 linear feet of steel joists.

The veil starts off low to the ground, lifted on slight, extruded steel columns. When the roof crests, it does so out of view, toward the center of the building. It eventually laps down to the sidewalk at the building’s main entrance, where it cantilevers 12 feet above the floor. Here, visitors get to bathe in the scattered, pleasantly fluorescent light created by the canopy. Ilias Papageorgiou, principal at SO-IL described the structure as a multi-sensory experience: “It works almost like a reverse sundial, where you become aware of the moving light and transformation of the shadows.”

In plan, the canopy is made up of a series of irregular gridded textures, “inspired by the agricultural landscape around the university,” as Keerns explained, a woven quilt of metal patterns going every which way. These angular divisions in the gently sloping surface—styled in section to resemble a silhouette of the area’s rolling landscapes—create jittery bits of structural framing, with joists and beams crisscrossing about. Steel columns of different diameters—40 in all—are deployed in a calibrated arrangement and are scattered about the entry pavilion. Interspersed amid this hypostyle courtyard are a series of bright yellow poles: multifunctional nodes for lighting, electrical outlets, and wireless internet.

The canopy is punctured by a large, oblong oculus that is mirrored on the ground by a dull, grassy knoll. The gesture is made to add another layer of functionality, as the opposing wall has been detailed to allow for film projection. The space ultimately succeeds in spite of this feature, not because of it. And the wall, entirely blank instead of delicately and intricately combed like the others, feels heavy-handed in what is otherwise a feathery plaza dancing with light.

The building, like the 2002 Boora Architects–designed Mondavi Center for Performing Arts directly opposite, is in axis with the center of campus. When approached from one of the campus’s main drags instead of from the parking lot, the entry pavilion acts as a type of outdoor living room for the university. As the canopy comes close to the ground at the sidewalk—and as a dissonant column causes one to step aside—it’s possible to experience a threshold condition and so properly enter into the designers’ domain.

The entry courtyard meets the fully enclosed portion of the building opposite this column at a convex section of glass wall. When sitting or standing in the courtyard, the effect of the columns and light posts is reminiscent of standing at a busy intersection in a city with broad sidewalks: It becomes possible to have almost private moments, both when no one else is in the space and when the various groups are passing through. Inside the building, a foyer contains a sinuous purple sofa—designed by an in-house team at BCJ—that turns a portion of the room into a viewing station, the now-convex arc of glass creates a televisual view of the courtyard and its many inhabitants. During AN’s visit to the museum, the courtyard and foyer were occupied by a diverse group of people: elderly couples, groups of moms with children, and even teenagers.

The museum works as a generic (in a good way) “somewhere else” type of place, not wholly any one aspect of its program, but as a place where lots of different types of things happen all the time. Simultaneously, the entry areas give the building a quality of comfortable domesticity, something akin to a grandparents’ living room, where shoes need to stay on, but one is free to feel at ease and gawk at whatever collection of curios might be on display.

Moving counterclockwise from the door, a projection room and the main galleries branch off to one side of the foyer. A second lobe, with ancillary functions, extends in another direction. A third wing peels off to the far left and contains a pavilion with a classroom and art studio that open onto the outdoors separately.

The galleries themselves are arranged as a variety of flexible spaces, with certain rooms casually arranged as educational areas, a result of the programming exercises the university brought to the designers. A larger gallery has soaring ceilings capped by extruded aluminum panels, with ductwork and piping visible beyond. The ancillary spaces, more intimate in proportion but correspondingly fussy in detailing, feature lower ceilings where the texture of the ceiling panels changes orientation to align with the long axis of the room. Because the museum’s permanent collection contains many sensitive works on paper, the galleries had to be designed to be completely artificially lit.

Papageorgiou explained: “Although daylight was not allowed in the galleries, we found moments for bringing the exterior through indirect light.” He refers to the central and generous hallway that connects the front galleries to the loading dock at the back of the building. That pathway is capped on both ends with glazing: one looking out onto the entry courtyard, the other, with a framed view of Interstate 80, cars and trucks whizzing by.

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Star-studded list of international architects compete for new Berlin museum

A total of 42 firms have been selected in the most recent round of a design competition for the Museum of the 20th Century. The museum will be located in the heart of the Berlin Cultural Forum. New York practices SO-IL, Snøhetta and REX are on the list, along with British firms Zaha Hadid Architects and David Chipperfield Architects. Back in November 2014, Germany’s parliament put aside 200 million euros for the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation and a new, much-needed building to show 20th century art at the Cultural Forum. In September 2015, a competition was launched for a design strategy that would include the site layout, architecture, and landscaping of the museum. The new building is set to display "internationally significant art collections" including the National Gallery's Marx and Pietzsch collections, parts of the Marzona collection, and works from the Kupferstichkabinett (Museum of Prints and Drawings). Now whittled down to a pool of 42, of which 13 were invited agencies, the selected firms will submit more detailed proposals mid-September of this year. A jury is due to meet the following month to decide where to go from there. Culture Minister Monika Grütters explained: "The great interest [in] the project shows that it is an attractive challenge for any renowned agency to build in this neighborhood. We expect exciting and bold designs [that] dare the restructuring of the Cultural Forum, without challenging the existing ensemble," which includes the nearby Mies van der Rohe-designed Neue Nationalgalerie. President of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation Hermann Parzinger said: "It must be possible to combine outstanding architectural and urban design with the requirements of a museum in the 21st century. I want a building that sets a new mark at this location, but it brings the necessary openness." The finalists include the following offices:
  • 3XN Architects, Copenhagen, Denmark with Henrik Jorgenson Landskab, Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Aires Mateus e Associados, Lisbon, Portugal with PROAP Lda, Lisbon
  • Beatriz Elena Alés + Zaera, Castelló, Spain
  • Arga16, Berlin, Germany with Anne Wex Berlin, Germany
  • Barkow Leibinger GmbH, Berlin, Germany with Professor Gabriele Kiefer, Berlin, Germany
  • BAROZZI / VEIGA GmbH, Barcelona, Spain with antón & Ghiggi landschaftsarchitektur GmbH, Zurich, Switzerland
  • Behnisch Architekten, Stuttgart, Germany
  • Bruno Fioretti Marquez Architekten, Berlin, Germany with Capatti staubach Landscape Architects, Berlin, Germany
  • David Chipperfield Architects, Berlin, Germany with Wirtz International NV, Schoten
  • CHOE Hackh / CUTE ARCHITECTS, Frankfurt am Main, Germany with Park Design, Kejoo Park, Seoul, South Korea
  • Christ & Gantenbein Architects, Basel, Switzerland with Fontana Landschaftsarchitektur GmbH, Basel
  • Cukrowicz nachbaur ARCHITEKTEN ZT GMBH, Bregenz, Austria with Studio Volcano, Landschaftsarchitektur GmbH, Zurich
  • Pedro Domingos arquitectos unip. Ida + Pedro Matos Gameiro arquitecto Ida Lisbon, Portugal with Baldios arquitectos paisagistas, Ida Lisbon, Portugal
  • Dost architecture Schaffhausen, Switzerland with Boesch landscape architecture Schaffhausen, Switzerland
  • Max Dudler architect, Berlin, Germany with Planorama Landscape Architecture, Berlin
  • Sou Fujimoto Architects, Tokyo, Japan with Latz + Partner, Kranzberg, Germany
  • Gmp International GmbH, Berlin, Germany
  • Grüntuch Ernst planning GmbH, Berlin, Germany with Sinai Society of Landscape Architects mbH, Berlin, Germany
  • Zaha Hadid Limited (Zaha Hadid Architects), London, United Kingdom with GREAT.MAX. Ltd., Edinburgh, United Kingdom
  • HASCHER JEHLE architecture, design and consulting Hascher Jehle GmbH, Berlin, Germany with Weidinger Landschaftsarchitekten, Berlin, Germany
  • Heinle, Wischer und Partner, Freie Architekten Berlin, Germany with Prof. Heinz W. Hallmann Landscape Architect Aachen, Germany
  • Herzog & De Meuron, Basel, Switzerland with Vogt Landscape architects, Zurich / Berlin
  • Florian Hoogen Architect BDA Mönchengladbach, Germany with hermanns landscape architecture / environmental planning Schwalmtal, Germany
  • Lacaton & VASSAL ARCHITECTS, Paris, France with CYRILLE MARLIN, Pau, France
  • Lundgaard & Tranberg Arkitekter A / S, Copenhagen, Denmark with SCHØNHERR A / S, Copenhagen
  • Mangado Y ASOCIADOS SL, Pamplona, Spain with TOWNSHEND LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTS LIMITED, London, United Kingdom
  • Josep Lluis Mateo - MAP Arquitectos, Barcelona, Spain with D'ici là paysages & territoires, Paris, France
  • Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA); Rotterdam, Netherlands with Inside Outside, Amsterdam
  • Dominique Perrault Architecture, Paris, France with Agence Louis Benech, Paris, France
  • REX Architecture PC, New York, USA with Marti-Baron + Miething, Paris, France
  • Sauerbruch Hutton Architects, Berlin, Germany with Gustafson Porter, London
  • Schulz and Schulz Architekten GmbH, Leipzig, Petra and Paul Kahlfeldt Architekten, Berlin with POLA Landscape Architects, Berlin, Germany
  • Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa / SANAA, Tokyo, Japan with Bureau Bas Smets, Brussels, Belgium
  • Shenzhen Huahui Design Co., Ltd. Nanshan (Shenzhen), China with Beijing Chuangyi Best Landscape Design Co. Ltd. Beijing, China
  • Snøhetta architects, Oslo, Norway
  • SO - IL Ltd, New York, USA with Stoss Landscape Urbanism, Boston, USA
  • Staab Architekten GmbH, Berlin, Germany with Levin Monsigny, Berlin
  • TOPOTEK 1, Berlin, Germany and Pordenone, Italy with TOPOTEK 1 Berlin, Germany
  • Emilio Tuñón Arquitectos, Madrid, Spain, Tunon & Ruckstuhl GmbH Architects SIA, Rüschlikon, Switzerland with Benavides Laperche, Madrid, Spain
  • UNStudio, Amsterdam, Netherlands, Wenzel + Wenzel Freie Architekten, Berlin, Germany with Ramboll Studio Dreiseitl GmbH, Ueberlingen, Germany
  • ARGE Weyell Zipse architect / architect horns Basel, Switzerland with James Melsom landscape architect BSLA, Basel, Switzerland
  • Riken Yamamoto & Field Shop Co., Ltd., Yokohama, Japan, Holzer Kobler Architects Berlin GmbH, Berlin, Germany, Holzer Kobler Architects GmbH, Zurich,
  • Switzerland with vetschpartner Landschaftsarchitekten AG, Zurich, Switzerland
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The Frick launches new plan to modernize, add more exhibition space

Now that the preservation of the Frick gardens has been assured, and the uproar surrounding the controversy has quieted down, a new plan to generate the alterations has already been set in motion. The new scheme promises changes that will affect the institution and its public in major positive ways. Although an architect has not as yet been selected, the search has already begun in hopes of embarking on the restructuring in 2017. The director, Ian Wardropper, articulated the museum’s needs and priorities that will guide the multi-pronged project. According to Wardropper, one of the principle concerns is the inadequacy of their exhibition space. Currently, in order to hang large shows, such as the Van Dyck portraiture exhibition now on view, many of the major works in the collection have to be removed, thereby disappointing those who come expressly to see their old favorites. By opening up the long-closed second floor rooms, the Frick hopes to alleviate the problem. At present the fine historic library on 71st St. is cut off from the 70th street entrance. The proposed remodeling will include a path between the museum and the library that links the two buildings and encourages visitors to wander and take advantage of the reading room and research facilities. Similarly, the rooms dedicated to conservation will be enlarged to better maintain the museum's essential collection of delicate decorative artworks. While the historic entrance that greets the public will be retained, new arrangements for easy wheelchair access will be provided. New service entrances will allow for large international crates; currently the staff must devise temporary ramps for the sizable and precious loan items. The Frick's also desires to expand its reach to a broader audience: a “First Fridays” will allow for monthly free entrance for students and those whom the entrance fee would pose a problem. Special events will be created for those evenings to better engage the new visitors. The tiny crowded entrance area would be enlarged to become a more coherent public space. Most importantly, the museum’s plan builds on the building's unique history and sense of domesticity. They intend to preserve the notion of a “home” even as they provide more effective ways of presenting its important collection to the public. The Frick will continue to present major theme-based surveys, such as the upcoming show of Turner’s Modern and Ancient Ports, and will continue to bring smaller exhibitions that expose the public to works rarely-seen in New York. One such forthcoming exhibition, curated by Chief Curator Xavier F. Salomon, will be Cagnacci’s Repentant Magdalene: An Italian Baroque Masterpiece from the Norton Simon Museum. The show will be an in-depth view of a major artist who's little-known to many.
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Toyo Ito-designed Mexican museum for baroque art opens

Japanese architect Toyo Ito has unveiled the International Museum of the Baroque (MIB) located in the Mexican city of Puebla, Southeast of Mexico City. As stated in its name, the museum is dedicated to the Baroque movement which began in 17th Century Rome. In a contrast to the intricate details and grandeur commonly associated with the movement, Ito instead employs a sculpted and flowing, all-white, 10-inch thick pre-cast concrete forms that evoke the scale and tension that was also synonymous with the Baroque period. A prominent feature throughout the building, the Corbusier-esque concrete slabs were realized with Ito's firm working alongside specialist precast concrete firm Danstek from Mexico. Externally, the precast walls exhibit a a bush-hammered texture while on the inside, where the concrete was cast in situ, a much smoother surface is used. "In the MIB we try to break and dissolve the cold and rigid order to achieve fluid spaces," says Ito's firm in a press release. "We hope that when people move from one room to another, they experience a baroque space." Indeed, circulation in the building revolves around a light-filled dome. Light, thanks to the coloration of the concrete creates a spacious and calm environment and was an important element in the museum's design. "In baroque art, light symbolizes a revelation from god opposing the darkness of ambivalence," the firm adds. "In this project, light also acquires a special meaning." Rising to 65 feet, the two-level museum houses a curving staircase in the main atrium, a 300-seat auditorium, and exhibition halls for both permanent and temporary installations. Some of those spaces can merge to form larger rooms. Also included in the main atrium are large undulating seating areas that reflect the surrounding water, designed by Ito's compatriot Kazuko Fujie Atelier. The design brief handed to Ito stipulated that the building, due to its location, should be sensitive of its natural surroundings. The MIB sits on a plane of water amid the Metropolitan EcoPark of Puebla; over the last for years the park has run programs examining the relationship between humans and nature. Echoing this, the museum's terraces provide visitors views across the park while the museum itself makes use of the areas steady climate to cool itself and lower its energy consumption. "Citizens can wander around this pleasant park while deepening their understanding of the environment," the architects explain. "We want to create a similar relationship to nature in the museum. The idea of a museum with light wells and fluid spaces that exhibit baroque art, emphasizing the dialogue between nature and man is complemented by a technological proposal."
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Shimoda Design Group builds L.A.’s Museum of Neon Art a new home in Glendale

Five years after closing its Downtown L.A. location, the Museum of Neon Art (MONA) has reopened in a new space between the Americana at Brand and a public library branch in Downtown Glendale. The country’s only museum dedicated to neon, MONA will feature works by contemporary artists in rotating exhibitions as well as a permanent collection of the kinds of signifier-icons that distinguish Los Angeles’s vernacular architecture. Included, for instance, is the famous Brown Derby sign that was once a Hollywood beacon.

An 8,400 square foot renovation is joined by a new public space and, fittingly, neon-adorned signage that draws from the museum’s collection. Sited on one of Glendale’s broad and highly trafficked boulevards, South Brand, MONA’s new facade embeds the museum in its cultural-commercial context, which includes landmarks such as the Alex Theatre’s famous marquee and more quotidian neighbors like BevMo.

A partnership between the Glendale Redevelopment Agency, the Department of City Planning, and Shimoda Design Group (SDG) generated the programmatic focus on public space and public programs. Using the powerful draw of the Americana complex, the designers and museum board hope to pull visitors from the mixed-use mall to the west, and, using the covered passage that bisects MONA and the generous open space around it, knit the Americana, the Glendale Central Library and Park, and the Museum together into one symbiotic, activated Downtown whole.

Shimoda’s adaptation of two existing buildings—a Rite Aid and a video arcade—reflects a thoughtful opportunism. The project was treated as “a surgical incision.” Since the structure and shell are largely preserved, the exuberance of the museum’s collection is allowed to play off of the patina of the buildings’ history. “It was important to use an existing building because the signs really thrive in a space that looks older,” Joey Shimoda, Principal of SDG, explained. Exposed ductwork and a restrained palette—brick, honed concrete, and white and black paint—further draw the art into focus. The project’s major architectural moves create or interact with public space: a double height lobby and broad, glazed entry face the street. Along with the neon inside, this creates “a lantern for the community.” The public paseo, created through strategic demolition, bisects the site and draws visitors across a landscaped deck to the park and library behind.

The museum, originally founded in 1981 by Lili Lakich and Richard Jenkins, has been guided by a celebration of Southern California’s built heritage—including the signs that have adorned its drugstore, diner, and gas station facades—and a respect for the craft of “neon bending.” Workshops will be held in MONA’s street-fronting neon bending studio and visitors will be encouraged to experience Los Angeles’ neon in its proper context: nightly bus tours will highlight the newly renovated Clifton’s Cafeteria and other historic Downtown L.A. landmarks. 

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I.M. Pei–designed art museum to get major renovation

The Indiana University Art Museum has received a $15 million gift which will be used for the renovation of the museum’s current 1982 I.M. Pei building. The gift was bestowed by the Indianapolis-based philanthropists Sidney and Lois Eskenazi. In honor of their gift, the museum has been renamed the Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Art Museum. The updates to the 34-year-old museum building, due to be completed in 2020, will be designed by the New York-based Ennead Architects and Indianapolis-based Browing Day Mullins Dierdorf. Along with the $15 million gift, the university will also be spending an additional $20 million on the project as part of their current gift-matching program. Along with the monetary gift, the Eskenazi’s have donated a nearly 100 works of their personal collection to the museum. The collection includes pieces by Miró, Picasso, Calder, Chigall, Dali and others. These pieces will be added to the museums already 45,000 piece collection, which ranges from ancient to modern art of a diverse range of cultures. The current I.M. Pei-designed museum is often cited as having no right angles. Though this is not accurate, the building is defined by two large triangular forms connected by a large triangular glass atrium.
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13 architects shortlisted for just-named Beirut Museum of Art

Last mid-April, the non-profit arts organization Association for the Promotion and Exhibition of the Arts in Lebanon (APEAL) announced a group of 13 shortlisted architects for their new initiative: to design and establish a new modern and contemporary art museum in Beirut, Lebanon. At the time, the museum was unnamed. This week, we learned the official name of the museum: Beirut Museum of Art (BeMA). Lord Peter Palumbo is chairing the independent design competition jury that includes a mix of international curators and artists, as well as the architects Lord Richard Rogers, Fares Al Dahdah, George Arbid, and Rodolphe Khoury. The late Zaha Hadid was also on the jury. "The museum will not only alter the panorama around it, but also recuperate at an urban scale the cultural dimension that local developers and municipality members envisaged for the city as early as 1915," said jury member and architect Fares el Dahdah. "It has the potential to form a new cultural center of Beirut." The jury selected the thirteen firms from a group of 66 architects of Lebanese origin working out of 16 countries. They include: 109 Architectes s.a.r.l. Bernard Khoury / DW5 Hashim Sarkis Studios, LLC HW architecture ibda design IDC / Verner Johnson ETEC SA L.E.FT Architects Lina Ghotmeh / DGT Architects Najjar Najjar Architect Raëd Abillama Architects / Nadim Khattar WORK Architecture Company (WORKac) Yatsu Chahal Architects (YCa) Said Jazari Consulting Office (SJCO) Youssef Tohme Architects and Associates (YTAA) New York City-based WORKac is helmed by Dan Wood and GSAPP Dean Amale Andraos. For the competition's phase two, the thirteen firms are tasked with creating concept designs and strategies for the Université Saint-Joseph-owned site in Beirut. "Physically, the building will naturally respond to the needs of its program; it will feature multiple gallery spaces, a community art space, and spaces that can be used for conservation, documentation, public education or discussion programs, and artists-in-residence," said APEAL president, Rita Nammour. "A goal of the project is also to provide respite from the surrounding vibrant cityscape by providing a public green space." APEAL is searching for a director and assembling a curatorial team. While the modern and contemporary art collection is still under development, Nammour said it will include "visual arts, painting, sculpture, works on paper, new media, photography, video, performing arts, film, architecture, and design." The museum will feature mostly Lebanese and Middle Eastern art, but also include works by international artists. "Situated adjacent to the demarcation line of the country's devastating civil war, the new museum aims to be a unifying national platform that will bring together diverse populations and narratives as well as strengthen civil society and participation," said Nammour. "BeMA: Beirut Art Museum will be an anchor within Beirut’s new 'museum mile,' home to the National Museum and Museum of Lebanese Prehistory, the Mineral Museum (MiM), and will soon include Beit Beirut (House of Beirut), and Metropolis Center."   APEAL is working with Temporary.Art.Platform on an artist-in-residence program called "Works on Paper" that is connecting commissioned artists with four daily Lebanese newspapers. "In the lead up to its opening BeMA will continue to build connections through key bridges with other existing cultural institutions," said Nammour. Beirut has seen a flurry of arts and culture museum development in the past few years. "The creative ferment is happening even as unrest in the region and domestic political instability have ground the economy and tourism to a near halt and threaten to embroil Lebanon in new conflicts," reported the New York Times this past October 2015. "How the city can contain such contradictions is a testament to its vivacity, history of surviving sectarian conflicts and long-established art scene." The jury will select the winning design this fall 2016. The museum is expected to open in 2020.
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New Museum to expand into adjacent building on the Bowery

The New Museum will double in size in time for its 40th birthday next year, as it expands into next-door 231 Bowery, which is currently offices, a gallery, and artists' live/work space owned by the museum.

The museum announced yesterday that it had raised $43 million of the $80 million needed to pay for the expansion and to triple the endowment. Although the funds seem modest in comparison to the MoMA (annual operating budget: $147 million) or the Whitney, the capital campaign is the largest in the New Museum's history. The $80 million will also pay for the institution's business incubator, New INC, and programs like IdeasCity, which bring artists, activists, planners, and policymakers together to discuss issues facing cities like Detroit and Athens, Greece.

Lisa Phillips, the museum's director, told The New York Times that “we’ve known for a long time that we wanted an expansion, but we’ve been thinking about what an expansion means for a museum like this. We own the building next door, and it just makes sense to use it. But it was also about thinking about ways to create a parallel structure there, to make something that’s different and a counterpoint to this building.”

Since the museum's move to Soho in 2007, annual attendance has increased from 60,000 to over 400,000. The museum intends to renovate 231 Bowery and connect it to their main Sanaa–designed space, increasing the total footprint from 58,000 square feet to over 100,000. As of now, there are no plans to demolish 231 Bowery. The expansion will allow for improved circulation, and keep exhibitions on view during turnaround periods: The New Museum has a tiny permanent collection, choosing instead to focus on women artists and art that's not usually exhibited in New York.

“I don’t have [the expansion] completely laid out,” Phillips told the Times, “but it’s about trying to do things that museums haven’t done yet or maybe even imagined.”