Posts tagged with "Museums":

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This fiery natural history museum integrates dynamic, color-shifting materials

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The Museum at Prairiefire, located 20 miles south of Kansas City, Missouri, is designed as a regional civic hub containing educational traveling exhibits from the American Museum of Natural History in New York. The project, designed by Boston-based museum architecture and planning firm Verner Johnson, was inspired by one of the most unique aspects of the Kansas tallgrass prairie: the prairie fire burns. These controlled fires, which can be traced back to Native Americans, suppress invasive plants that help rejuvenate native grasses, promoting plant and animal diversity.   
  • Facade Manufacturer Millennium Forms (metal panels); Goldray Industries (dichroic glass); US Stone (Kansas limestone); Echelon Cordova Stone (engineered stone)
  • Architects Verner Johnson
  • Facade Installer Lovell Sheet Metal (metal panels); JPI Glass (dichroic glass); D&D Masonry (stone)
  • Facade Consultants n/a
  • Location Overland Park, KS
  • Date of Completion 2014
  • System steel frame with metal panel, curtain wall glazing, and stone veneer
  • Products Millenium Forms Flat Lock Panel in bright annealed and mill finish with Bronze Gold, Peacock, and Burgundy colors; Goldray Industries Dichroic Laminated Glass with 3M film (dichroic glass); US Stone (Kansas limestone); Echelon Cordova Stone (engineered stone)
The project involves two box-like volumes connected by a free-form volume of space clad with color-shifting materials compositionally organized to evoke flame bursts and spark-like effects. The faceted nature of the building perimeter, paired with a unique material palette of dichroic glass and iridescent metal panels, produces a dynamic envelope that changes with varying environmental light conditions. Jonathan Kharfen, Principal at Verner Johnson, said the concept to evoke fire was a core focus of the design team from very early on in the project. "If you have a strong concept, then all of your decision-making must support that concept—details, massing, materials—everything." Narrow tube columns are spaced 25” apart, encouraging people to stand between them. The architects say this apparent lack of structure makes the Great Hall volume float, expand around corners, and dynamically engulf the visitor. This structure is employed as support for the building envelope which consists of a structural silicone glazed system (SSG) of fixed insulated glass units (IGU) and a stick-built insulated exterior wall with metal panel cladding. Dichroic film is a transparent material that appears to change color when viewed from various angles. By faceting the plan geometry of the exterior walls, a wide range of color was achieved by one type of film. The film is laminated between two sheets of glass, which is placed into an IGU assembly. "As far as we know, dichroic has never been used in this way," said Kharfen. The glass units are compositionally arranged within a standard flat seam cladding system of metal panels. The color effects of these panels are produced by an electrochemical reaction between stainless steel and chromium oxide which builds up the material to specific depths. Ultimately, four different colors with various finishes were used on the project. The distribution of the tiles in a "paint-by-number" tiling pattern was determined by the architects well ahead of the final installation. "There was a lot of work that went into developing languages of the glazing and metal panels," he said. "To get to a realization of the concept you are working with is a long process—and to me, it's a process of developing a language with that material that evokes what you're trying to communicate." The dynamism of the metal panels and dichroic glass is cast against a stone veneer backup wall composed of a color mix that has been arranged in a gradient coursing. Bands of stone with specific percentages of color mixes helped to translate this concept into reality. The bottom 15 feet of wall shifts from limestone to an engineered stone product, which embeds into an undulating landscape that surrounds the building.
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wHY subtly transforms historic Masonic Temple to house Marciano Art Foundation

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.”
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Bronx Children’s Museum breaks ground

The Bronx Children’s Museum is inching closer to reality: the project broke ground yesterday in Mill Pond Park, which is steps away from the Yankee Stadium. The $10.3 million, 13,800-square-foot museum also doubles as a restoration project. A historic powerhouse facility will act as the museum’s permanent home, which is slated to be LEED-certified. The museum will sit on the second floor, with the first floor providing access to the river, park, and tennis courts. The Bronx is the only borough in New York City that doesn’t have a brick-and-mortar children’s museum. Previously, the museum used a roving bus that hosted exhibits. Designed by New York–based O’Neill McVoy Architects, the Bronx Children’s Museum's design aims to catalyze its site—located between the city grid and the bank of the Harlem River—by creating an organic flow within the rectangular frame. The museum hopes to connect children to the natural world and the project's design was inspired by Jean Piaget’s concept of a child’s development from topological to projective, according to the architects’ description. Curved wooden and translucent partitions diverge, reconnect, and spiral throughout the space to create both continuity and separation between exhibition spaces. The theme of “Power” will unify all of the exhibits, which will also explore Bronx culture, arts, and community resources. In accordance with its vision to engage children with their natural environment, there will be a river habitat where visitors can build beaver dams and learn about water ecosystems. There will also be a community gallery, garden, and a greenmarket. The museum is projected to open in late 2018.
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Seven of America’s top new museums and monuments

Last year saw one of the biggest and most publicized mueum openings in recent memory: the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). While it obviously made the cut on our list of top new museums and monuments, highlighted below are a few other opened or soon-to-be-open buildings and memorial that honor our country’s history and cultural heritage. Memorial for slaves that helped build the University of Virginia memorial honoring the estimated 5,000 enslaved people who helped build the University of Virginia (UVA) will be built on the university’s grounds. Designed by Boston-based architects Höweler+Yoon, along with Mabel O. Wilson, Gregg Bleam Landscape Architect, and Dr. Frank Dukes, the granite, circular memorial will reference The Rotunda at UVA, which was planned by Thomas Jefferson two centuries ago. “The Memorial is a facet of the University’s commemorative project that involves many people and initiatives, we envision this memorial to embody the ideals of the University which, as Jefferson defined to be, ‘to follow truth wherever it may lead,'” said Meejin Yoon of Höweler+Yoon in a press release. FXFowle designs new Statue of Liberty Museum  Visitors looking to get up close and personal with the Statue of Liberty will soon get a chance to do so when New York–based FXFowle’s new museum opens in 2019. The 26,000-square-foot building is designed to accommodate the rush of tourists from the ferries, which bring over 4.3 million people a year. Inside, the statue’s original torch will be displayed and 15,000 square feet of space will be dedicated to showcasing the monument's history, legacy, and construction details. “The museum’s defining gesture is the lifting of the park itself, extending vistas rather than ending them, and creating a new, naturalized habitat in place of a traditional building,” said FXFowle on its website. National Museum of African American History and Culture opens in Washington, D.C.  The National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), which opened recently in September 2016, is the latest addition to the monumental architecture on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The tiered structure, designed by David Adjaye and lead architect Philip Freelon, together with Freelon Adjaye Bond/SmithGroup, is clad in 3,600 bronze-painted aluminum panels and inspired by Yoruban art from West Africa, a region where many slaves were taken into bondage. After a decade, the Jackie Robinson Museum finally begins construction A museum that has been a long time coming (it was originally slated to open in 2009), the Jackie Robinson Museum by Gensler’s New York office will open in 2019. Honoring the Brooklyn Dodgers legend, the 18,500-square-foot museum will showcase Robinson's achievements from 1919 to present, including his participation in the civil rights movement. “The Jackie Robinson Museum is an opportunity to bring an important cultural landmark to NYC—one that challenges visitors to think about the history of social and cultural change and tolerance,” according to Joseph Plumeri, chairman of the Jackie Robinson Foundation National Legacy Campaign. Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum one step closer to reality  A proposed new Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum could be made into reality if the final portion of its $61 million budget is fulfilled. Currently, over two-thirds of the funding is secured for the 50,000-square-foot, Omniplan Architects–designed building, which will honor the victims of the Holocaust while extending the dialogue of human rights in modern America. “We need a place that allows us to have a discussion about what human rights, diversity, and respect for others mean for our city today,” said Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings during the announcement of the capital campaign. AIA Dallas awarded the building an Unbuilt Design Award in 2015. United States Marshal Museum construction faces fundraising challenges  While the proposed United States Marshals Museum in Fort Smith, Arkansas, is still in the funding stage, its set opening date is September 24, 2019, to coincide with the 230th anniversary of the U.S Marshals Service. The star-shaped design is reflective of the badges worn by marshals in earlier years, and the building’s location overlooking the Arkansas River is a nod to history: the river used to serve as the U.S.'s border when the service was founded in 1789. The estimated cost of the project is $35.9 million, but the agency’s low profile has been posing problems for the fundraising campaign. Memorial to Peace and Justice honors victims of lynching  A museum and memorial to victims of lynching is set to open sometime this year in Montgomery, Alabama. Founded by nonprofit Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) and designed by Boston-based MASS Design Group, the Memorial to Peace and Justice resembles a gallows, including hundreds of hanging stone slabs with the names of lynching victims inscribed in them. Between 1877 and 1950, there were more than 4,000 victims of lynching, according to EJI. The accompanying museum will focus on both the history of slavery as well as contemporary issues related to racial inequality.
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New contemporary Italian art museum opens in Hudson River Valley

Magazzino, a postwar and contemporary Italian art museum, opens June 28, joining the ranks of MASS MoCA, Storm King Art Center, and Dia:Beacon in the Hudson River Valley. The museum will house works collected by Giorgio Spanu and Nancy Olnick, who own one of the largest collections of postwar and contemporary Italian art in the U.S. and have been collecting these works since the 1990s. Featured artists include Giovanni Anselmo, Alighiero Boetti, Pier Paolo Calzolari, Luciano Fabro, Jannis Kounellis, Mario Merz, Giulio Paolini, Giuseppe Penone, Michelangelo Pistoletto, and Gilberto Zorio. The museum itself was 10 years in the making and will feature over 400 artworks from the Olnick Spanu Collection and 5,000 books on Italian art. Magazzino, which means “warehouse” in Italian, is comprised of an old farmers’ warehouse (later turned into a dairy distribution center and then a computer factory) and a new building by Spanish architect Miguel Quismondo. “We said, the new space had one protagonist: The art. [The building] had to be a container that could explain its content,” Spanu said. This is Quismondo’s first major completed project; he worked under Alberto Campo Baeza on Spanu and Olnick’s home in Garrison, New York. He became involved with Magazzino in 2014, but completed construction (doubling as the general contractor) in 20 months, a process that he described as “very intense” but “a labor of love.” The architect mirrored the existing L-shape configuration to create a rectangle with a courtyard in the center, allowing copious light to infiltrate the 20,000-square-foot structure. “The container had to be as discrete and humble and mute as possible, but I still played with the dialogue between the existing 1964 structure and the new 2017 structure. The light works in different ways throughout,” Quismondo explained. Open glass hallways connecting the buildings as well as varied ceiling heights offer visitors moments of compression and expansion. The older works, an homage to Italian curator, collector, and gallery owner Margherita Stein in the inaugural exhibition Margherita Stein: Rebel With a Cause are displayed within the smaller of the two buildings, with lower ceilings and an open layout. The newer works, from the late ‘80s onward, are presented in a much larger room with a central axis running through it. Translucent fiberglass ceiling tiles offer diffused, equal lighting that is akin to the now-famous illumination at the Whitney. Magazzino (2700 Route 9, Cold Spring, NY, 10516) is free to the public by appointment.
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wHY converts old masonic temple into 110,000-square-foot art gallery

The much-anticipated Marciano Art Foundation by Los Angeles– and New York–based architecture firm wHY debuted May 25.

The 110,000-square-foot gallery, created by Paul and Maurice Marciano of Guess Jeans fame, has taken over the abandoned Scottish Rite Masonic Temple on Los Angeles’s Wilshire Boulevard, bringing life to an old neighborhood eyesore. The midcentury-modern structure was built in 1961 by architect and artist Millard Sheets, and has been renovated to display works from the Marciano Art Foundation collection, which has a deep focus on Los Angeles–based contemporary artists.

In remarks made at a preview of the building, wHY principal Kulapat Yantrasast explained that rather than craft a traditional museum, the firm sought to create something “more like an artists’ playground—a place where people can make mistakes, do something new, and experiment.” The architect added, “It’s an interesting challenge to turn something that is very closed-in and secretive and make it something public, open, and welcoming.”

The three-story steel-framed structure is organized loosely and flexibly in order to accommodate a diverse collection. A wide balcony level provides vantages of the ground floor galleries, which have been curated to highlight the thematic tastes of the collectors. The building’s second gallery is located on the top floor in a former ballroom. An old meeting room on that same floor now houses sculptures by artists Mike Kelley and Sterling Ruby.

The building, as generative as it is showcasing, also features a collection of site-specific murals installed throughout, including a naturalistic site installation by sculptor Oscar Tuazon in an exterior courtyard.

Marciano Art Foundation 4357 Wilshire Boulevard Los Angeles Architect: wHY

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LACMA launches Kickstarter to bring Guatemala’s only contemporary art museum to U.S.

The Los Angeles Museum County Museum of Art (LACMA) and Nuevo Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Guatemala have launched a Kickstarter campaign to bring Guatemala’s first and only contemporary art museum to the United States. The museum—colloquially known as NuMu—is contained within a five-square-meter egg-shaped pod that can hold up to four people at a time. Jessica Kairé and Stefan Benchoam, the artist-organizers behind the museum, plan to build a mobile replica of the structure that would go on tour through creative communities in Guatemala, Mexico, and the American Southwest. The museum would eventually end its journey at LACMA in Los Angeles in time to join celebrations for the city’s Pacific Standard Time festival of exhibitions due to take place this Fall. Pacific Standard Time is being organized to strengthen existing connections between Southern California–based artists and art institutions and their peers throughout Central and South America. The pod will be included in a group exhibition organized by LACMA called “A Universal History of Infamy;” The exhibition will focus on the work of more than 15 artists and collectives that delve into anthropology, theater, and linguistics via their work. So far, the Kickstarter has garnered over $21,000 in pledges. The ultimate goal of the initiative is to raise $75,000. See the NuMu Kickstarter page for more information.
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Jackie Robinson Museum finally starts construction after a decade-long wait

Work has finally begun on a New York City museum that will honor Brooklyn Dodgers legend Jackie Robinson. Originally, the museum was slated open in 2009, but the Great Recession stalled fundraising for ten years. Now the museum, designed by Gensler’s New York office with exhibition design by Ralph Appelbaum Associates, is set to open in 2019. The 18,500-square-foot museum is being built into the ground floor of One Hudson Square, in Manhattan’s Soho district. A permanent exhibit will inform visitors of Robinson’s part in the civil rights movement, showcasing Jackie Robinson’s achievements against the backdrop of U.S. history from 1919 to the present. Beyond learning, these panels are functional, retracting to form the walls of an arena setting, or sliding out of sight to create more space for larger events. In these cases, temporary seating can also be installed. More hands-on exhibits, meanwhile will inform visitors on subjects including baseball, segregation, citizenship, personal integrity, and social change. A 75 seat theater will round out the program. "The Jackie Robinson Museum is an opportunity to bring an important cultural landmark to NYC—one that challenges visitors to think about the history of social and cultural change and tolerance," wrote said Joseph Plumeri, chairman of the Jackie Robinson Foundation National Legacy Campaign, in an information document about the museum. "The lessons learned from Jackie’s personal journey will touch people of all ages, educational levels, and cultural backgrounds." In terms of funding, the Associated Press reported that about $23.5 million has been raised to build the museum. The Jackie Robinson Foundation has its eyes set on a total of $42 million to pay for the museum's operating costs (42 was the baseball player's number).
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New-York Historical Society previews new Gallery of Tiffany Lamps

Yesterday morning, the New-York Historical Society previewed the totally transformed fourth floor of its Upper West Side museum—once a drab archive, it will soon host 100 Tiffany Lamps in a space designed by London- and Prague-based architect Eva Jiřičná. The creation of the Gallery of Tiffany Lamps was spurred by the discovery that Clara Driscoll, one of the “Tiffany Girls” (women who worked for Tiffany Studios and selected the glass fragments that went into the lamps), was a leading creative force and designed many Tiffany lamps herselfNew York City–based PBDW were the architects of record for the 4,800-square-foot, two-story gallery, which features specially-crafted curving glass displays surrounded by a low-light environment and dark blue walls. Jiřičná's firm, who has come to specialize in glass construction, designed the LED-lit stairs with absolutely minimal metal details. In most instances, the stair's glass-to-glass metal connections are encased within the layers of laminated glass panes, making them totally flush and well-hidden. Furthermore, the stair's glass hangs off the nearby wall and works in tension. A small amount of give was engineered into the steps for users' comfort when walking upward. Georgina Papathanasiou, an associate at Eva Jiřičná Architects, said the staircase was "a feat of technology in the 21st-century" to match the technical achievement of Tiffany's 20th-century creations. In addition to telling the history of the Tiffany Girls and Clara Driscoll, visitors can create their own Tiffany lamp through an interactive digital installation (created by Cambridge, Massachusetts–based Small Design firm Inc.) on the second floor. The Gallery of Tiffany Lamps is adjacent to the also-new 1,500-square-foot Joyce B. Cowin’s History Gallery, a space dedicated to exhibitions organized by the New-York Historical Society’s Center for Women’s History. The newly-established Center is the first institution of its kind dedicated to public exhibits on women in American history. (The Joyce B. Cowin’s History Gallery will be inaugurated with Saving Washington, an exhibition on First Lady Dolley Madison, along with items from the archives of Billie Jean King, an interactive multimedia wall, among other artifacts.) Lastly, a new North Gallery will showcase objects from the museum's permanent collection. All the galleries will open to the public on April 29.
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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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Snøhetta masterfully creates a new museum setting for 17,000-year-old cave art

When I tell people my daughter lives in France, their first thoughts are of Paris. When I say the south of France, they think of Cannes, Nice, and Marseilles. Actually, she lives two hours east of Bordeaux in a beautiful region known as the Dordogne. Buried amongst the stately chateaus and castles is a collection of artwork that has captured the imagination of the world—the cave paintings of Lascaux. Discovered in 1940, these prehistoric works of art were created more than 17,000 years ago in Montignac, France. At first, the caves were open to the public, but were closed in 1963 when it was discovered that humans exhaling carbon dioxide were damaging the artwork. Lascaux II, a facsimile of the original, opened in 1983, and is located 600 feet away. But, even still, human traffic was damaging the original. Subsequently, in 2012, Lascaux III was created as a traveling exhibit and it is currently touring Asia. To bring this whole fascinating story back to life, after it had been closed to the public for over 50 years, a design competition was launched in 2011 to create Lascaux IV. Its mission was to bring this world heritage site out of the darkness and back into the public’s eye, to provide access to the Dordogne region of France as an international cultural and scientific attraction, and to create a greater understanding of the history and meaning that spawned this Paleolithic cave art. The design competition attracted many of Europe’s leading firms, including Mateo Arquitectura, Auer+Weber, and Ateliers Jean Nouvel. Ultimately, in 2013, the jury selected the design team led by Snøhetta, of Oslo, Norway, working with local firm Duncan Lewis and interior-exhibition designers Casson Mann of London. Jury member Bernard Cazeau, a senator representing the Dordogne, said, “From the point of view of the scenography—which was, in our eyes, an essential factor—it’s the most successful project.” Kjetil Trædal Thorsen, one of the founding architects of Snøhetta, explained that “during the process of copying, you discover new information. It was a huge research investment.” The architects and exhibit designers learned how the ancient artists thought and acted. Those painters would draw multiple heads on a horse to simulate movement as the horse swam across a river. The building and its multiple exhibitions work beautifully as an integrated sequence of spaces. Snøhetta is recognized for its integration of landscape and architecture. The Lascaux IV Museum is masterful in this regard. The museum forms the edge of a sloping forest adjacent to a broad field. “The building is an insertion,” Thorsen explained, “a negotiation between the forest and the agriculture.” It is possible to walk from the entry plaza up a slope to the top of the building, not unlike Snøhetta’s design for the Oslo Opera House. “The building is not an abstract,” Thorsen said. It brings the museum experience to a new reality, reminding us we are all part of a 20,000-year continuum. Many people, including this writer, were skeptical about the value of a museum with copies of the cave art. I had visited the original cave paintings in the nearby French town of Rouffignac and have been trained to value original artwork. So how would this team of architects and exhibit designers create a place that could teach us new things, touch our hearts, and move our minds? With imagination, innovation, and technology, they created a whole new world worth every hour of your time and then some. I envisioned a fake cave and a gift shop, but as I approached this bold incision in the landscape, set against the forested hillside, I realized there was much more to this museum than I had imagined. The building is partially buried in the hillside near the original caves. The sequence of spaces skillfully takes the visitor from outside to inside and back outside again. There is, of course, the re-creation of the original caves; with a change in light, acoustics, and humidity, you feel like you are entering down into the cave as the artists did more than 17,000 years ago. Your eyes adjust to the dim light, and the paintings come alive. Over 50 artists and sculptors from the Perigord Facsimile Workshop labored for three years to reproduce the shape and texture of the cave, and, using the same materials as the original artists, captured the color, shape, and form of over 600 animals, 400 signs and symbols, and one human with a bird’s head. The gentle curvature of the cave walls was used to simulate the curvature of the animals’ bodies. It’s impossible not to wonder about who these Paleolithic people were and how they lived. And why did they spend the time and effort to tell us their stories? After exiting the caves, you enter a series of additional exhibition halls and theaters. Pieces of the cave are re-created and suspended from the ceiling. Digital images, projected on the paintings, explain how the artists created layers of meaning over time. Thorsen explained that “the cave has a meaning in its own right. The cave is itself an artifact.” Three mini-theaters trace the history of discovery in the caves since 1940. Then, a separate space, framed by multiple suspended digital monitors, explores how the cave paintings have influenced contemporary artists. Museums have a dual function: first, to display the art within in a visually stimulating way that allows visitors to learn, to grow, and to explore. And second, to create an architecture that engages the community and makes a design statement of its own. Snøhetta achieves both with a deft hand and a keen eye. The image of the building against the forest at dusk is a dramatic sight, expecting to draw nearly half a million visitors per year.
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A closer look at wHY’s custom reflective materials at Louisville’s Speed Museum

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The Speed Art Museum, located in Louisville, Kentucky is the state’s oldest and largest art museum; it is a major cultural repository for the region. wHY’s concept to carefully and precisely intervene on the existing museum, described by the firm as “acupuncture architecture,” set the project apart from other proposals solicited by the museum’s international search for an architecture firm to develop a comprehensive strategy for the museum’s growth and expansion.
  • Facade Manufacturer Cristacurva (glass); Kawneer (skylights); McGrath (metal panels)
  • Architects wHY; K. Norman Berry Associates Architects (architect of record)
  • Facade Installer F.A. Wilhelm Construction (general contractor)
  • Facade Consultants Thornton Tomasetti (structural design)
  • Location Louisville, KY
  • Date of Completion 2016
  • System Steel frame w/ curtain wall & metal panels
  • Products Flashing and sheet metal by Firestone Building products; Curtain wall by Cristacurva & Kawneer; EIFS by STO Corporation; Masonry by CIP Concrete Walls (F.A. Wilhelm)
While the interior work on the 200,000-square-foot project has been celebrated for enhanced connectivity and openness, the exterior simultaneously works to reflect the immediate surroundings of the site, which is embedded within a network of Frederick Law Olmsted–designed parks and parkways, as well as opposite a residential neighborhood and university. The most prominent component of the project is a 60,000-square-foot north pavilion, formed by stacking three shifted volumes sheathed in fritted glass and folded aluminum panels. This materiality emulates the classical moldings of the original museum building and produces a dynamic change in response to the natural light. The project team produced five modules of zig-zagged panels that are combined in a random order across the facade. These panels are incorporated into a concealed-fastener rainscreen system, attached to a secondary steel frame and Centria thermal insulation panels. Coloration and reflectivity parameters were extensively tested on site with the owner prior to final selections. In addition to folded metal panels, glazing panels in the curtain wall feature a custom frit material. The patterning consists of a staggered gradient pattern composed of small half-inch rectangles, dissolving from 99% coverage at the roof line to zero percent at ground level for transparency at eye level. The frit is mirrored on the outside, and matte on the inside, a combination which Andrija Stojic, design director at wHY, says was challenging to achieve, but an essential component of the project: “It doesn’t create a barrier, and produces a very different effect when you’re standing outside compared to inside. It was very difficult to achieve this because we were unable to find a US manufacturer willing to produce a dual-coated frit.” This led wHY’s team to a successful collaboration with Mexico-based Cristacurva, who were able to work together on design and production of the highly specific finish. Stojic concludes, “The point for us is to detail in a manner that looks so clean and simple that it will almost disappear. How the metal panel meets the glass, or the continuation of one panel to another. We try to make these moments as simple as possible. Detailing this project was a challenge for us, but also one of the most exciting aspects of the project.” wHY opened an office in Louisville as a result of the project and continues to deliver projects in the region from this location. This adds a midwest office to wHY’s presence on both coasts (Los Angeles and New York City).