The Next Wave
Cultural institutions throughout the world continue to engage both celebrated and rising-star architects alike for renovation projects.
Sheila Kim -- Interior Design, 8/1/2001 12:00:00 AM
When the 1997-completed Guggenheim Bilbao, designed by Frank Gehry, garnered the acclaim of other architects, critics, and the museum-going public, it declared that a museum building was as important to its identity as were its holdings. The success of Bilbao's titanium temple has since spawned a trend of cultural institutions seeking out noted architects and even holding design competitions. And the practitioners have responded to the call. In early 2000, Polshek Partnership Architects successfully married futuristic design to cutting-edge technology for New York's Rose Center for Earth and Space, at the American Museum of Natural History. This year the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, engaged five leading architects—Rem Koolhaas, Steven Holl Architects, Daniel Libeskind, Morphosis, and Atelier Jean Nouvel—to collaborate on concepts for the museum's upgrading project. World-renowned architects such as Renzo Piano and Tadao Ando, as well as regional designers such as Tod Williams Billie Tsien & Associates and many more have added their names in recent months to the elite roster of cultural institution designers—a list that continues to grow. The following are some of the museum projects, born of this trend, that were completed this year or are slated to be in the near future; a handful of this next wave may even leave as indelible a mark as Gehry's Bilbao.
Project: Asia Society, New York
Architect: Voorsanger & Associates Architects, New York
Description: Voorsanger & Associates' re-design of the Asia Society includes a glass-enclosed courtyard (which adds 4,000 sq. ft. to the building), new gallery space, renovation of the office floors, and integration of current communications technology and mechanical systems. An architectural highlight is a limestone-clad entry lobby that is flooded with light from the sky-lit garden court. The court will provide space for a café, performances, and other events. The Asia Society opens this October.
Project: Milwaukee Art Museum, Wisconsin
Architect: Santiago Calatrava, France
Description: The Milwaukee Art Museum's expansion project, the Quadracci Pavilion designed by Santiago Calatrava, provides a 30 percent increase in gallery space to 117,000 sq. ft. and includes galleries, a glass-enclosed receptional hall, café, and the Reiman pedestrian bridge. This first Calatrava-designed building to be completed in the United States incorporates maritime elements inspired by the museum's lakefront location such as the pedestrian bridge's soaring mast shape, which alludes to a sailboat. The Quadracci Pavilion is scheduled to open this October.
Project: Tate Britain Centenary Development, UK
Architect: John Miller + Partners, UK
Description: The Tate Britain Centenary Development is an upgrading of the Tate building and its Millbank surrounds to enlarge the museum and add new galleries. Although work began on the John Miller + Partners-designed project in 1998, the museum remained operational, closing off only certain sections that were being worked on. This November, the development will be completely open to the public.
Project: Museum of World Religions, Taiwan
Architect: Ralph Appelbaum Associates, New York
Description: The 86,000-sq.-ft. Museum of World Religions is dedicated to the exploration of the world's religious diversity, displaying religious objects and texts ranging from Buddhism and Islam to Christianity and Judaism. Exhibition designer extraordinaire Ralph Appelbaum has created a "spiritual journey" that begins with visitors cleansing their hands in a curtain of water to signify purification and continues with interactive exhibits such as a touch-sensitive table for individual exploration. The MWR opens this November.
Project: American Folk Art Museum, New York
Architect: Tod Williams Billie Tsien & Associates, New York
Description: With a new image comes a new name—the American Folk Art Museum (formerly the Museum of American Folk Art) will be the first new art museum in New York City to be built from the ground up since the Whitney's opening in 1966. It is also the first major public project in New York for Tod Williams Billie Tsien & Associates. The AFAM's eight-level, 30,000-sq.-ft. building will be capped by a skylight to allow natural light to filter to all levels through dramatic cut-throughs. The facility will include an atrium, auditorium, classrooms, and a café. AFAM is slated to open this December.
Project: UCLA Hammer Museum, California
Architect: Michael Maltzan, California
Description: Architect Michael Maltzan's major redesign scheme for the UCLA Hammer Museum includes new and expanded galleries, a 288-seat theater, a public program/education space, and courtyard restaurant, all covering a total of 83,200 sq. ft. One of the key architectural features planned is the addition of a bridge linking newly en-closed promenade galleries on the second floor. The UCLA Hammer Museum is slated to open in early 2003.
Project: Nevada Museum of Art, Nevada
Architect: Will Bruder, Arizona
Description: After winning both the Academy Award in Architecture and the Chrysler Design Award last year, architect Will Bruder follows up with a design for the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno. The façade's curved and warped surfaces of black slate, steel, and glass reflects Bruder's roots as a trained sculptor and are reminiscent of the regional landscape. The four-level, 55,000-sq.-ft. museum will include a 180-seat theater, indoor café and rooftop eating space, sculpture gardens, event spaces, and a research library. The NMA is slated to open in March 2003.
Project: Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Colorado
Architect: Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates, California
Description: The DMNS's major project, entitled "Space Odyssey," will transform its west façade into a three-story-high glass atrium to provide visitors with views of City Park, the mountains, and the downtown Denver skyline. HHPA will also upgrade the museum's Gates Planetarium to be one of the first digital planetariums in the world. The 40,000-sq.-ft. project will not alter the footprint of the original museum building, and will be completed mid-2003.
Project: Austin Museum of Art, Texas
Architect: Gluckman Mayner Architects, New York
Description: Gluckman Mayner has designed the new Austin Museum of Art facility to encompass 145,000 sq. ft., 25,000 of which will be gallery space. Other public spaces include a sculpture garden, two-story light court, café, education center, and 300-seat film theater. The AMOA is scheduled to open in late 2003.
Project: Ohr-O'Keefe Museum of Art, Mississippi
Architect: Frank O. Gehry, California
Description: Frank Gehry brings his titanium designs to the Ohr-O'Keefe, the only museum dedicated to a ceramicist—George E. Ohr. The Biloxi museum will consist of an entry building and five separate pavilions and will be adjacent to the Native American Meditation Garden. The Ohr-O'Keefe is scheduled to open in 2004.
Project: California Academy of Sciences, California
Architect: Renzo Piano, Italy; Gordon H. Chong and Partners, California
Description: The California Academy of Sciences is the only combined natural history museum, planetarium, and aquarium in the country, making it a powerhouse of natural history "edutainment." However, the 12-building Academy has been in need of an upgrade since 1989, when an earthquake damaged some of its buildings. Pritzker Architecture Prize-recipient Renzo Piano has designed the Academy's new structure, with Gordon Chong as local architect on the project, that will incorporate up-to-date communications technology and energy- and water-efficient systems, while preserving the architectural heritage of the buildings. The CAS is slated to open in 2007.