[ Editor's Note: The following letter is an excerpt of a comment left on archpaper.com. It pertains to the new Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) Cleveland designed by Farshid Moussavi, which Stephanie Murg critiqued for AN's Midwest edition last November. AN welcomes reader letters, which could appear in our regional print editions. To share your opinion, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. ] MOCA’s form is a simple game of extruded geometry. The base form shifts from a hexagon as it rises to a square at its top. A third year architecture student would have been given a C- and asked, “Is that all you could come up with?” The exterior is clad in black stainless steel panels that are already streaking at the corners. They also present a range of colors that indicate the material selection and/or production was not up to the task of producing uniformity. Additionally, the gauge of the panels is such that they reflect extensive oil canning, which makes the black box look cheap. Moussavi introduced slanting windows that have nothing to do with the experience from the interior as they slash through spaces and right through floors, revealing their arbitrary and formal imposition. With exterior walls that slant from side-to-side and warp, tilting in and out, one can quickly become dizzy and nauseous. The only real design feature of MOCA is its stair—Moussavi herself calls it the “dominant architectural feature of the building.’ It is pressed up against the exposed construction of the exterior envelope, which is painted a very dark shade of blue. Everything is painted dark blue, except the white sidewalls of the stair. It shifts angles and doubles back at landings as it drags one upward. As you finally turn for the last half section at the primary exhibition space, you are confronted with a massive exposed air handling unit—painted dark blue—hovering just above your head with its three flywheels waiting to shave off any hairstyle attempting verticality. The light fixtures also hang down into your headroom, obscuring your view down. It is unpleasant and absurd. You perceive that the roof is too low and you feel compressed in the largest open space in the project. Even Wright knew that after “compression” came “release.” Not Moussavi. William T. Eberhard, Eberhard Architects
Posts tagged with "Farshid Moussavi Architecture":
If you read this column, you know Eaves loves a party. You also know we self-deprecatingly speak of mediocre Midwestern cities (we’re from Louisville). Even with summer winding down, there’s no need to stick out that lower lip. A slew of—well, ok, three–high profile openings will tickle even the slightest art and architecture enthusiast as Cleveland, East Lansing, and Cincinnati compete for the title of Bilbao of the Midwest. First up, the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland, designed by Farshid Moussavi Architecture, opens on October 6. Will the Mistake-on-the-Lake become the Rust Belt Riviera? On MOCA’s heels comes the Eli and Edythe Broad Museum on November 9. OK, we don’t know anything about East Lansing other than a school’s there, but—hey!—now they have a Zaha Hadid. And finally, Cincinnati, home to America’s first Hadid, will welcome 21c Museum Hotel by Deborah Berke & Partners. Their website says it will open late 2012. Which project will be an urban game-changer? We could be swayed by opening night invites, but right now my money’s on Cincy.
If Foreign Office Architects’ first project, the huge Yokohama International Port Terminal in Japan, was the vast scale of rolling dunes, the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland—begun when the firm was still known as FOA and carried to completion by Farshid Moussavi Architecture—is compact as a cube. And size has made all the difference in keeping on track through the economic downturn with the $27.2 million building poised for opening in October. At a New York presentation at the velvety Norwood Club, the museum’s executive director Jill Snyder described selecting the Moussavi from a field of 32 that was then boiled down to three, including SHoP and Office dA (dissolved in 2010), based on criteria that included knowing that the Cleveland museum would be “the most important job in the office for the duration of the project.” In fact, MOCA Cleveland is not only Moussavi’s first museum but her first project in the United States. Located on a gateway site with landmark works of architecture on sites nearby and underway by Frank Gehry, Stanley Saitowitz and Rafael Vinoly, the museum will be Moussavi more sculptural than iconic, and is clad in an opalescent black steel to contrast with the shiny aluminum bodies nearby. James Corner Field Operations is designing the wedge-shaped plaza for Moussavi’s faceted building. A hexagonal ground floor that twists into a rectangle, the museum is further distinguished by vertical window slots that keep the cubically-inclined form buoyant. The geometric shift gives the four-story building a dramatic open atrium, but space was too valuable to waste in this tight 34,000 square foot composition. And so a dramatic staircase—one open stair leading up with an enclosed egress stair stacked beneath—becomes an event space on its own terms with a “cascading effect” allowing visitors to pause, look out, and proceed at multiple levels. Though the project never stalled in 2008, the architects were asked to shave off some ten percent of costs achieved through tightening all aspects of the job and resulting in a net loss of just 1200 square feet of program space. “My respect for what architects can pull off when called upon,” Snyder said, “expanded exponentially. I think restrictions actually made it better.” In a bold, bound to be controversial gesture, walls behind the stair as well as on the ceiling of the top-floor 6,000 square foot main gallery will be painted Some Major Blue—not to be confused with Yves Klein blue—that hopefully will make contemporary art works by the likes of David Altmejd, Katharina Grosse, Gordon Matta Clark and Haegue Yang among others to pop. First rejecting blue out of hand, Snyder said that a day-long discussion with Moussavi and several artists with full-scale mock-ups on the technical limits and opportunities of using such a declarative color led the team to embrace blue, as long as it is dark enough to disappear in an interesting way. With ceilings in the main gallery at 23 feet, that should not be a problem.