The thrill of discovery is palpable throughout Koning Eizenberg Architecture (KEA)’s MuseumLab in Pittsburgh. The museum is designed for older kids—tweens ages 10–15 years old—and encourages hands-on learning through arts and technology. The restoration of its building was driven by curiosity and inquiry into a historic structure that had fallen into disrepair. The MuseumLab is an expansion of the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, the third building to be renovated in what has become the largest cultural campus for families in the U.S. It’s the Santa Monica-based KEA’s second project on that campus, following their transformation of an 1880s-era post office and the adjacent 1940s planetarium in 2004. MuseumLab (along with a charter school and incubator for education-based startups) now occupies the next building in the row, a 40,000-square-foot Richardsonian Romanesque library was once known as the Carnegie Free Library. Commissioned by the industrialist Andrew Carnegie in 1886, it was the first of over 1,600 free libraries he would build across the U.S. As the first library in his adopted hometown, Carnegie spared no expense on this Gilded Age gift to Pittsburgh’s workers. Unfortunately, the textured terracotta tiles and ornately carved column capitals were sacrificed in a 1970s redesign that saved the building from urban renewal efforts but covered up its most distinctive qualities under dropped ceilings, plaster, and carpeted walls. In 2006 a lightning strike sent a three-ton piece of granite crashing through the roof, causing damage that led the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh to finally abandon the building altogether. In need of new space, the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh saw an opportunity to turn the neglected building from a library into a “lab” that offers tweens a maker space for complex projects, a tech lab run in partnership with Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology Center, and art exhibitions. In working with KEA, the renovation exemplified MuseumLab’s focus on curiosity and discovery. KEA partner Julie Eizenberg described the approach to the project, which didn’t necessarily begin with a fixed outcome in mind. Eizenberg and the Children’s Museum team approached “architecture as an exploration. … We have a philosophy that the building is an armature for learning in every project we do, and that applied here as well. We started pulling the building apart and that’s when we realized that more of the building had been removed than anyone had expected.” Christen Cieslak, director of facilities and special projects at Children's Museum of Pittsburgh, describes how the renovation fits the mantra of the Children’s Museum to encourage visitors to: “Play with real stuff, and be authentic.” She saw the potential for authenticity in the renovation: “This building has a story to tell.” Exposing the crumbling plaster, missing tile, and stripped ornamentation was a way of exploring the many stories embedded in a post-industrial city and brought about unexpected design opportunities. In that sense, KEA’s work was equal parts excavation and renovation, or in Eizenberg’s words, “more of a reveal than restore.” Peeling away layers of midcentury plaster and vinyl flooring uncovered the building’s industrial materials, colors, and textures and offered surprises along the way, like an entryway lined with terra cotta fox head tiles that were only discovered at the last minute. But rather than restore the building to its original splendor, the team decided to celebrate the layered qualities of the space. “We said, ‘we’re not going to make this a clean and tidy restoration, this is going to be a lovely ruin.’ It ended up making a lot of sense economically and poetically, in terms of reinforcing program values,” Eizenberg said. There’s an irreverence to this approach that should resonate with the building’s young users without “talking down to them.” For Eizenberg, the space “needed to be cool, it needed to not to feel like it was your parents’ place or a kid’s place, and it needed to suggest the idea of discovery.” After uncovering the tall ceilings and large windows of the original design, the Carnegie Free Library was treated like a found object. Materials were restored or recontextualized to create a richly textured environment rooted in industrial materials, particularly granite, tile, and the Carnegie-brand steel that built the philanthropist’s fortune. Perforated steel floorplates that once supported the original library stacks were repurposed as a screen wrapping the main staircase, which doubles as a striking backdrop to the lean, low reception desk. The desk and light-wood benches in the lobby were built from repurposed bookshelves. Original iron shelving that once held the stacks now supports an enticing three-story architectural lace climbing structure designed by architect-trained artist Manca Ahlin that will open in January 2020. “We didn’t want a little kiddy climbing structure,” Ciezlak says, “This is art. It’s a little scary.” The renovation also whimsically reimagines the building’s past. In the Grable Gallery, for example, a lost Tiffany-glass ceiling inspired a commission by Los Angeles and New York-based architecture studio FreelandBuck. The team hung a complex layered laser-cut fabric sculpture to create the illusion of a domed Beaux-Arts space as an homage to the lost ceiling. Visitors are also invited into the process. A local mosaic artist used salvaged tile and glass from different parts of the building in a collaborative sculpture to teach visitors how to create mosaics. For Eizenberg, the reveal was a way to respect the past and change the way visitors engage with older spaces. “The key is not to do something clever and new that makes the past less important,” she said, “everything you do with historic buildings has to in some way be part of the story of the life of the building into the future.” It's noteworthy that the project was designed, financed, and built by a team led by women, who among other things oversaw the building’s capital campaign, supervised the construction, led the design, and directed the museum. As to whether this impacted the final result, Eizenberg suggested that “communication is different when there’s a lot of women around. There’s a lot more comfort, psychologically, in asking questions, in looking at options rather than feeling like you had to have the perfect answer for everything.” Altogether, the building has a dynamic feel to it, as though it is in the process of decay and construction at the same time, making the building an engaging experience for users of all ages. Sarah Rafson is the founder of Point Line Projects and teaches at the Carnegie Mellon University School of Architecture.
Posts tagged with "Museum":
The onePULSE Foundation and Dovetail Design Strategists have revealed concept designs from the six shortlisted teams chosen to create the upcoming National Pulse Memorial and Museum in Orlando, Florida. Each architect-led team proposed a series of interventions (below) that connect the former PULSE nightclub site with the larger SoDo district and the Orlando Survivor’s Walk. In honor of the 49 "angels" who died on June 12, 2016, the designers were challenged to embody the foundation’s mantra within the architecture: "We will not let hate win." The public is allowed to comment on the designs here through Friday, October 10. Fly-throughs of the individual projects can be found here as well. Coldefy & Associés with RDAI French firm Coldefy & Associés has envisioned a striking three-pronged design for the onePULSE Foundation that includes a spiraling, open-air museum structure that towers over a renewed West Kaley Street. The memorial site below that is presented as both a lush garden planted with 59 trees and a piece of preserved architecture. Coldefy chose to integrate the existing nightclub into the new design, transforming it with cutouts that allow visitors to walk through the building on an intimate path. A reflecting pool encircling the club would feature a palette of 49 colors in its basin. The design team has prioritized accessibility, walkability, and biking in its vision for memorial and museum, as well as SoDo. As the neighborhood grows, Coldefy aims to integrate more promenades, bike paths, and room for a shuttle to connect Pulse visitors to the train station. Further collaborators: Xavier Veilhan, dUCKS scéno, Agence TER, and Professor Laila Farah Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Rene Gonzalez Architect with Raymond Jungles, Inc. DS+R’s scheme for the site centers around a contemplative sound garden with 268 reflective columns honoring the survivors. The original club structure will remain and be covered in a beaded shroud while a platform atop it would hold the sanctuary, a space featuring mementos and displaying the names and stories of the angels. Forty-nine rainbow-colored ceramic tail columns puncture the sanctuary and extend above a suspended canopy for passersby to see. Glass openings in the floor would provide views of the club’s dance floor below. At night, the lights dance. heneghan peng architects, Gustafson Porter + Bowman The quiet and stately concept design from the Dublin and Berlin-based heneghan peng features an angular museum that, according to the architects, resonates with the energy of the nightclub. Along West Kaley Street, its facade curves and tilts upward, 'hugging' visitors as they walk in. The memorial also symbolizes a kind of embrace; the original nightclub building is surrounded by seven sections that come together as a shared space. The names of the 49 lost would be embedded into a series of colorful, vertical bands on one elongated wall. Though silence is a major component of this design, so is sound. Within the museum would be recording studios, conversation spaces, and community areas. Heneghan peng proposed the PULSE Music Label, which would spread music that shows the strength of the LGBTQ+ community. Further collaborators: Wannemacher Jensen Architects, Bartenbach LichtLabor, Sven Anderson, and Pentagram MASS Design Group, Ralph Appelbaum Associates, and Sasaki MASS Design Group's monumental proposal frames the original structure of the nightclub in a sculptural embrace. With waterfalls cascading down the facade, visitors would be able to view the memorial from a contemplative seating area at the gathering space of the survivors. The memorial is accompanied by the Museum for Equality, aiming to position the tragic events at Pulse "in a global context of the fight for equality." Triangular motifs are a key feature of this museum's design, and colored glass window panels would give the building a sacred feeling, topped off with a "kaleidoscope atrium" that uses natural light to create a warm, reflective space. Further collaborators: Sanford Biggers, Richard Blanco, Little Diversified Architectural Consulting, and Porsha Olayiwola MVRDV and Grant Associates Inspired by the "midnight quality" of the nightclub's black exterior, MVRDV's monument design is a raised structure that seems to levitate over a landscape of small mounds and surrounded by 49 trees chosen by the families of the angels. The facade will remain black, with gold accents to highlight fractures along the surface. The memorial is a truly interactive site, as visitors would be able to pass under the floating structure and atmospheric lighting would allow visitors to connect with the space in deeper ways. Meanwhile, the design of the Pulse Museum is organized into four sections, which twist to form the word "love," visible from the street level because of its sloped construction. The extensive green roof of the building would be fully accessible and is intended as a communal space. Further collaborators: GSM Project, and Studio Drift Studio Libeskind with Claude Cormier + Associés Studio Libeskind has dubbed its design 'Perpetual Light' and it would feature a heart-shaped memorial surrounded by 366 colorful frames—one for each day of the year 2016. The memorial extends out and would connect to a Survivors Walk, a testament to the bravery and heroism that occurred at the site. The proposed museum is a towering structure that "connects the terrestrial to the celestial," shooting upward and ending in a display of 49 beams of rainbow light activated by human touch. An observation deck would give the opportunity for visitors to view the entire district from above and think about the legacy of Pulse in Orlando and beyond. Further collaborators: Thinc and Jenny Holzer
New Orleans-based firm Eskew+Dumez+Ripple has unveiled designs for the much-anticipated $45 million renovation and expansion of the Bruce Museum. Located in downtown Greenwich, Connecticut, the 107-year-old institution for arts, science, and natural history hasn’t been significantly upgraded in 26 years, but that’s about to change as it prepares to double in size. The design team, alongside Chicago studio jones/kroloff, will redesign the museum’s existing facility—a 30,000-square-feet private residence from the 1850s—and add new, state-of-the-art exhibition, education, and community spaces and more storage room. The result will be a seamlessly-connected, 70,000-square-foot structure, nicknamed the New Bruce, centered around a brand new three-story wing that will open onto the adjacent 30-acre Bruce Park. For the new wing, Eskew+Dumez+Ripple will create a contemporary look that plays off the geology of the surrounding region. The facade will be clad in cast stone and glass with striations that mimic Connecticut's coastal rock quarries. The interior will hold a new, public entrance lobby, a large lecture hall, and an events space. According to the architects, the design, like the museum itself, is intended to be a “repository for exploring the complex relationships between art and science. The Bruce is conceived of as a stone monolith that is carved and excavated to create a monument that celebrates the geology of the site and its impact in shaping the culture of Connecticut.” Reed Hilderbrand will revamp the landscape surrounding the Bruce Museum in an effort to connect it more strategically with Bruce Park. One of the boldest ways they’ll do this is by outfitting a central courtyard in the middle of the building between the lobby and gallery spaces to immerse visitors in lush greenery regardless of whether they are outside or indoors. Additionally, Reed Hilderbrand will preserve and restore the tree canopy around the museum and create a clear circulation system with a guided path for museum-goers to view outdoor sculptures. Renovation work on the current gallery areas began last month and is expected to wrap up in early 2020 following the completion of the Permanent Science Galleries. Once open, the expanded art galleries will allow The Bruce to host larger exhibitions, as well as showcase more of the museum’s 15,000-piece permanent collection, much of which was previously hidden away in its basement. Construction on the new wing is expected to begin next summer.
Morphosis Architects has unveiled its vision for the upcoming Korean American National Museum in Los Angeles. Slated for a small site in L.A.’s Koreatown district, the two-story cultural space will embody the past, present, and future of the Korean-American experience through the integration of a distinct multi-cultural landscape. Led by Thom Mayne and Morphosis partner Eui-Saung Yi, the project will be the first permanent home for the institution, which was established in 1991 in order to preserve and interpret the history and achievements of Americans with Korean heritage. According to the architects, the design of the museum’s future building was inspired by Eulho Suh, a Morphosis alum and founder of Suh Architects in Seoul, South Korea. His work is heavily influenced by the concept of “displaced memory” and its embodiment in the physical space. Several elements within Morphosis’ proposal attempt to pay tribute to this idea. For example, the museum’s plan is structured around the traditional Korean Hanok, or home with a classic courtyard in the middle. The building’s core features a central open space through which everything else—from the fluid ring of galleries to the offices and meeting rooms—is centered around. Even its sweeping concrete facade, which forms an abstract shape that rises from a thin, landscaped podium, isn’t able to give away the surprising scale of the sculptural interior. The bottom of the structure, which dually serves as a welcoming public space, will feature an embossed pattern typically found outside Korean palaces. With the landscape as the main focus of the architecture, Morphosis set out to create what they call an “allegorical migration” of the Korean-American experience, full of traditional Korean plants mixed with local California flora. This is most easily seen in a rendering of the rooftop sculpture garden which will contain maple, pine, and bamboo trees. By combining these plantings, the museum acknowledges the impact of Korean immigrants in the United States, and the continuing duality of both countries’ existence today. Morphosis also notes that the museum’s external configuration is meaningful. Located at the corner of 6th Street and Vermont Avenue, guests will enter the museum at the corner of the intersection and be greeted with a triple-height gallery with two intersecting volumes. “By disengaging from the Cartesian direction of the city blocks,” writes Morphosis on its website, “the new orientation signifies the autonomy of the displaced landscape and begins a more dynamic centrifugal experience.” The Korean American National Museum is scheduled to break ground next year, with an estimated completion planned for 2020.
Foster + Partners has been selected to design the future expansion and remodeling of the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum in northern Spain. The team entered into an international competition in collaboration with local studio LM Urirate Arkitektura S.L.P under a pseudonym, and the winning proposal beat our six other design teams due to its respect for the existing architecture on-site. The 105-year-old institution has undergone two major renovations since first opening in the center of the city—it’s situated between an urban park and major plaza and surrounded by both aging buildings and new construction. Foster + Partners teamed up with Luis María Uriarte, who worked on the 2001 expansion, under the collective name of “Agravitas.” Their vision to update the historic space will re-orient it towards the city, and add over 21,500-square-feet of new galleries within an open and flexible floor plan. According to Norman Foster, the heart of the project will be making the original 1945 building the central focus of the museum. They aim to freshen up its plaza-facing facade and enhance the structure’s permeability by building a new sun-lit lobby between the thin, brick building and the 1970s addition in the rear. “Our design will restore the existing mid-twentieth century building and setting to its original glory,” said Norman Foster in a statement, “[and] create a new publicly accessible atrium space and add major new galleries for contemporary art in a floating pavilion.” In true Foster + Partner’s style, this stacked piece of architecture will appear lightweight and fluid, with terraces on its western edge. On the outside of the museum towards the park, the slender addition will create a large overhang where visitors can gather underneath in the shade. In the atrium, which will be built over the exterior Plaza Arriaga, a massive skylight will stream natural light from the roof of the pavilion. The circular window will cut through each level to maximize views of the art below. “Technological in its image, humanistic in its approach and ecological in its sustainability, the proposal combines architectural quality, urban sensitivity, and social responsibility to raise a luminous landmark in the historic heart of Bilbao,” the jury said in an official statement. This isn’t the first project Foster + Partners have done for the city of Bilbao. In 1995, the firm completed the Metro Bilbao Station, an understated but ultimately iconic glass canopy that leads commuters to an expansive underground. No estimated date of completion for the project has been given yet.
For all the advances in technology over the past decade, the experience of curating and viewing museum shows has remained relatively unchanged. Even though digital archive systems exist and have certainly helped bring old institutions into the present, they have relatively little influence over the ways museum shows are designed and shared. The normal practice is more or less “old school” and even borderline “dysfunctional,” said Bika Rebek, principal of the New York and Vienna–based firm Some Place Studio. In fact, a survey she conducted early on found that many of the different software suites that museum professionals were using were major time sinks for their jobs. Fifty percent said they felt they were “wasting time” trying to fill in data or prepare presentations for design teams. To Rebek, this is very much an architectural problem, or at least a problem architects can solve. She has been working over the past two years, supported by NEW INC and the Knight Foundation, to develop Tools for Show, an interactive web-based application for designing and exploring exhibitions at various scales—from the level of a vitrine to a multi-floor museum. Leveraging her experiences as an architect, 3D graphics expert, and exhibition designer (she’s worked on major shows for the Met and Met Breuer, including the OMA-led design for the 2016 Costume Institute exhibition Manus x Machina), Rebek began developing a web-based application to enable exhibition designers and curators to collaborate, and to empower new ways of engaging with cultural material for users anywhere. Currently, institutions use many different gallery tools, she explained, which don’t necessarily interact and don’t usually let curators think spatially in a straightforward way. Tools for Show allows users to import all sorts of information and metadata from existing collection management software (or enter it anew), which is attached to artworks stored in a library that can then be dragged and dropped into a 3D environment at scale. Paintings and simple 3D shapes are automatically generated, though, for more complex forms where the image projected onto a form of a similar footprint isn’t enough, users could create their own models. For example, to produce the New Museum’s 2017 show Trigger: Gender as a Tool and a Weapon, Rebek rendered the space and included many of the basic furnishings unique to the museum. For other projects, like a test case with the Louvre's sculptures, she found free-to-use models and 3D scans online. Users can drag these objects across the 3D environments and access in-depth information about them with just a click. With quick visual results and Google Docs-style automatic updates for collaboration, Tools for Show could help not just replace more cumbersome content management systems, but endless emails too. Rebek sees Tools for Show as having many potential uses. It can be used to produce shows, allowing curators to collaboratively and easily design and re-design their exhibitions, and, after the show comes down it can serve as an archive. It can also be its own presentation system—not only allowing “visitors” from across the globe to see shows they might otherwise be unable to see, but also creating new interactive exhibitions or even just vitrines, something she’s been testing out with Miami’s Vizcaya Museum and Gardens. More than just making work easier for curators and designers, Tools for Show could possibly give a degree of curatorial power and play over to a broader audience. “[Tools for Show] could give all people the ability to curate their own show without any technical knowledge,” she explained. And, after all, you can't move around archival materials IRL, so why not on an iPad? While some of the curator-focused features of Tools for Show are in the testing phase, institutions can already request the new display tools like those shown at Vizcaya. Rebek, as a faculty member at Columbia University's Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, has also worked with students to use Tools for Show in conjunction with photogrammetry techniques in an effort to develop new display methods for otherwise inaccessible parts of the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum, a history and naval and aerospace museum located in a decommissioned aircraft carrier floating in the Hudson River. At a recent critique, museum curators were invited to see the students’ new proposals and explore the spatial visualizations of the museum through interactive 3D models, AR, VR, as well as in-browser and mobile tools that included all sorts of additional media and information.
MacArthur Fellows Jeanne Gang of Studio Gang and Kate Orff of SCAPE Landscape Architecture are teaming up to re-envision the prestigious Arkansas Arts Center (AAC) and adjacent MacArthur Park in Little Rock, Arkansas. Set to break ground this fall, the 127,000-square-foot project—both a renovation and new construction effort—will help clarify the 104-year-old cultural institution’s interior organization, while also amplifying its presence in the historic landscape with a contemporary visual identity. Gang said the firm’s vision will “unlock new connections” between the existing programming on site, which includes a renowned Museum School, Children’s Theatre, and a gallery space that hosts the AAC’s permanent art collection. Since the Center opened on this site in 1937, several major additions have been built. By 1963, the museum had five galleries, four studio classrooms, sculpture courtyards, an art library, and a 381-seat theater, but according to Studio Gang, the AAC suffered from inefficient operational adjacencies—meaning it’s hard for visitors to get from one area to the other. To fix this issue, the design team will create what they call a “stem” that cuts through and “blossoms” to the north and south of the Center. A pleated, thin-plate structure that appears to lightly undulate across the site and into MacArthur Park, the new architecture will not only anchor new visitor amenities but also define a new public gallery and gathering space while simultaneously weaving together the AAC’s various programs. “New daylit spaces linked through the core of the Center will facilitate movement and create a series of vibrant, new public spaces for social interaction, education, and appreciation for the arts,” said Gang in a statement. Initial aerial renderings reveal the way this simple architecture intervention will strengthen the Center’s programming and relationship with the park. Located on the south side of the museum on a current parking lot, Studio Gang has designed a 10,000-square-foot outdoor pavilion underneath the structural canopy with room for dining and respite in the shade. The transparent skin of the structure will provide visitors with a direct connection to nature. In time, SCAPE’s landscape addition, which will include 2,200 linear feet of new paths and trails, as well as 250 trees, will merge with the Center’s canopy to become a parkland forest. Just as important to the revitalization project will be the renovation of all existing facilities on site. Studio Gang will renovate the original 1937 Museum of Fine Arts facade (the AAC’s former name) which serves as the northern entrance. According to the architects, from there they will “excavate” the existing building—a series of fortress-like spaces—by opening up the lecture hall, theater, and studios, among others parts to the new public areas. For example, on the north end, there will be a 5,500-square-foot "Cultural Living Room" that can be both a flexible gathering space or play host to special events. The massive cultural project is being backed by an ambitious $128 million fundraising campaign. So far, $118 million has already been raised, including a $31,245,000 commitment from the City of Little Rock. The new Arkansas Arts Center is expected to be complete in early 2022.
The soon-to-be-built Robot Science Museum in Seoul, South Korea, will be a robotics exhibition itself. The museum, to be designed by Turkish firm Melike Altınışık Architects (MAA), will be built by robots when construction begins next year. In this way, the construction of the building itself will be the museum’s “first exhibition,” according to principal Melike Altınışık, whose firm is already known for distinctively sci-fi buildings like the 882-foot Küçük Çamlıca TV and Radio Tower, which is currently under construction in Istanbul. The ovoid form of the museum, which will display a range of technologies, including artificial intelligence, virtual reality, augmented reality, and holograms, is designed to create a set of “non-directional” relationships both within the interiors, but also in the public space and the street that surrounds it. The intent is to shift relationships for foot and vehicle traffic and create a more ambiguous flow between inside and out. The entire architectural and visual language of the museum is intended to showcase the museum’s own mission to educate the public on science and technology by using cutting-edge materials and high-tech fabrication techniques, including robotic construction. While the specifics of the robot technology to be used will be announced later this spring, the current plan is to use one “team” of robots to construct the curved metal facade, completing all steps from shaping to assembly to welding and polishing. An additional team of robots will 3-D print concrete, primarily for the spaces surrounding the museum. Both will be directed by BIM systems and help the building itself “manifest robots, science, technology, and innovation,” according to MAA. The museum was commissioned by the Seoul Metropolitan Government and will operate as part of the Seoul Metropolitan Museums with plans to open in full in 2022. It will form part of the Changbai New Economic Center in Seoul’s Chang-dong neighborhood as part of a new cultural center.
Beijing’s Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA) has upgraded its visual identity with a reorganized interior and a new facade by OMA’s Chris van Duijn. Since opening its doors 11 years ago, UCCA has become a center of the 798 Art District in Beijing, a cultural area that receives 5 million visitors per year but has long suffered from a lack of organization and an overall masterplan. Architects Jean-Michel Wilmotte and Qingyun Ma completed a full-scale renovation of the industrial spaces in 2007, but over the years, new architectural elements and patchwork renovations changed the original vision. OMA’s redesign is aimed at helping the museum recover its roots and create a distinctive sense of place. To do this, the design team focused on first revealing the three mid-century factories in which the artwork was housed. They demolished later additions and then restructured the internal program. Two major interventions were then made to enhance the museum’s transparency and engagement with the public. OMA created an informal auditorium that stretches from the inside to the exterior plaza and designed a thin glass veil facade. The wall lightly undulates and wraps around the auditorium, resembling a plastic sheath. According to OMA, the new “wrinkled geometries complement the formal appearance” of the original building, which is clad in red clay. “UCCA initially started as a pioneer in promoting Chinese contemporary art and has in the 11 years since become one of China’s leading institutes with a strong public relevance,” said Chris van Duijn, parter-in-charge of the project. “This current status is reflected in the new design through the public and dynamic character.” The project’s opening comes on the heels of OPEN Architecture’s recently-completed design for the UCCA Dune Art Museum, a satellite campus on China’s Gold Coast.
A new exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao looks back on the historic design and construction of the seminal Spanish museum and its pioneering use of digital technology and avant-garde materials in the field. Architectural Effects, which opened on December 5, details Frank Gehry’s pivotal project while chronicling its influence on contemporary architecture and art. Organized by lead curator Manuel Cirauqui and Troy Conrad Therrien, curator of architecture and digital initiatives at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, the show asks: What makes architecture more than just a building? Through various mediums, the exhibition broadens the understanding of the museum’s initial impact by placing its technological and cultural achievements alongside other 21st-century works. The exhibition is split into three connected “territories.” In Airlock, the Garden, and the Bubble (a digital dimension available on a free app), visitors can explore both the materials on view as well as the virtual story of architectural advancement visible throughout the show. Airlock, the introductory territory, features major moments in the creation of groundbreaking digital technology, not just in architecture, but also in biology, pop culture, medicine, politics, and more. Video, audio, books, photographs, historic artifacts, and archival material populate this showcase, further explaining how these benchmarks—all made in the year 1997 when Gehry’s Guggenheim Bilbao was completed—have influenced the world at large. According to a statement, “The Airlock is a representation of the techno-cultural conditions in which the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao was developed to immediately become a global emblem.” Gehry’s vision for the project and the resulting Bilbao Effect are also heavily documented in this section of the exhibit. Garden, the main space in Architectural Effects, highlights post-1997 art and architecture through moving images, prototypes, models, sculptures, and artificial intelligence. It features works by prominent artists and architects over the last 20 years through drawings, animation, and architectural documentation. Three major projects are debuted in this section including El Otro by Frida Escobedo, A Tent without a Signal by MOS Architects, and Float Tank 01 by Leong Leong. Bubble offers visitors an online collection of media that contextualize and further illustrate the works on view. It includes educational materials and readings by influential artists, scholars, and writers like John Mernick, Gordon White, and Venkatesh Rao as well as critical essays by the exhibit’s curators and assistant curator Ashley Mendelsohn. Architectural Effects is on view through April 28, 2019, at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in Bilbao, Spain. Several talks, performances, and workshops will coincide with the exhibition. More information is available here.
I.M. Pei, legendary designer of cultural and institutional architecture, designed his first-ever museum in downtown Syracuse, New York. Constructed in 1968, the 60,000-square-foot Everson Museum of Art was a brutalist building that broke the mold on traditional museum design. The geometric structure was made out of poured-in-place concrete and local granite, featuring four cantilevered galleries and a dramatic exterior. In the museum’s grand vision, Pei gave the city its first taste of groundbreaking modern architecture, and in turn, launched his own reputation as a world-class cultural architect. He went on to design other iconic museums like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar, the famous glass pyramid at the Louvre, as well as the National Gallery of Art East Wing in Washington, D.C. On the 50th anniversary of the Everson Museum’s completion, it’s hosting an exhibition on Pei’s design and the institution's history as a “monumental work of abstract sculpture and architecture.” Art Within Art: The Everson at 50, which opened in mid-October, showcases archival materials and never-before-seen plans, photographs, and models of the project. “For 50 years, our one-of-a-kind arts venue has stood as a work of art to house art,” said Elizabeth Dunbar, director and CEO of the museum. “We are excited to celebrate our facility’s milestone anniversary and bring 50 more years of meaningful encounters with art and architecture to all those that visit the museum.” The Everson is home to over 10,000 pieces of art and features one of the largest collections of international ceramics in the United States. It has hosted the first solo exhibitions of several international artists including Yoko Ono, Bill Viola, and Marilyn Minter.
New York City and Beijing–based OPEN Architecture recently completed a cave-like museum that’s carved into a sand dune along China’s Gold Coast. The UCCA Dune Art Museum is a 10,000-square-foot facility featuring 10 galleries, studios, and a cafe tucked inside an all-white, unassuming structure beside the sea. According to the architects, the museum’s hidden form was inspired by the way in which children dig into the sand. It takes visitors beneath the mass of loose land and allows them to enter into a series of otherworldly, cell-like spaces below ground. After walking through a dark tunnel and small reception area, museum-goers are exposed to the largest multifunctional gallery. This procession, along with its secluded location, creates a more personal experience for viewing contemporary art. “Its interconnected, organically shaped spaces echo those of caves…whose walls were once home to some of man’s first works of art," the firm told Archinect. The largely-underground building includes a massive concrete shell that was formed by small linear wood strips and other structural materials. A multitude of overhead openings and skylights of varying sizes allow natural light to seep into the gallery spaces. Perched by the shore, the roof is covered in sand to reduce the building’s overall heat load. It also includes a low-energy, zero-emission ground source heat pump that cools the structure during the day. Visitors can ascend a spiral staircase from the galleries up onto a viewing platform to take in the surrounding views and fresh air. The entire space is engineered to be contemplative, urging art lovers to consider the museum’s context as part of the art itself. The UCCA Dune Art Museum is part of the Ullen Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing, a leading international institution. OPEN Architecture aims to design a walkway that extends from the Dune Art Museum into the Bohai Sea. When the tide is low, it will lead visitors to the solitary Sea Art Museum, a boxy, open-air structure built like a rock. That project is currently under construction.