Lebanese and French architect Hala Wardé and her studio HW Architecture has been awarded the commission to design the new Beirut Museum of Art (BeMA) in Lebanon. Situated in the center of the Lebanese capital, Wardé's design sees a “Central Campanile Tower” climb to almost 400 feet, aiming to be seen by many far and wide across the city as a symbol of unity. Aside from HW Architecture's winning proposal, New York–based firm WORK Architecture Company (WORKac) was given a special mention by the jury.
The submission from Wardé was chosen from a final shortlist of 13 and selected by a jury comprising Lord Peter Palumbo (chair); Rem Koolhaas; Lord Richard Rogers, Serpentine Gallery curators Hans Ulrich Obrist and Dame Julia Peyton-Jones. Zaha Hadid, now an honorary member, was on the jury until her passing last year.
From a museum perspective, BeMA will be dedicated to displaying art and design as well as contemporary Lebanese culture. As for Wardé's design, the tower will offer a place for artists to reside as well as room for studios and performance areas. Surrounding the Campanile Tower is a publicly accessible garden that will feature a series of site-specific art installations. The site—now part of the Université Sant-Joseph—was once a borderline within Beirut during the Lebanese Civil War. Provisions have been made in Wardé's proposal to ensure connectivity to the university is available.“I am delighted and honored to realize my first major project in the city of Beirut where I was born, on such an exceptional site,” said Wardé. “This museum program, in connection with the university, will allow us to create a new cultural and social space with a garden and amphitheater, and will single out this artistic territory with a strong and recognizable urban beacon, which through its multiple expressions, will belong to the new urban landscape of the city.”
BeMA is due to be open by 2020, while dates for groundbreaking are yet to be released.