Project: Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas
Sara Pepitone -- Interior Design, 8/1/2012 2:50:00 PM
Project: Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
Location: Bentonville, Arkansas
Architect: Safdie Architects
Engineer: Buro Happold
Size: 201,000 SF, plus 120-acre campus
Opened: November 2011
Following a trip to Bhutan, architect Moshe Safdie was fascinated by suspended structures, says Cristobal Correa, project engineer for Buro Happold, who employed suspension bridge technology to create eight large concrete, glass, and wood gallery pavilions for the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas. The concept of a bridge, Correa says, works especially well at Crystal Bridges, where movement of people is fluid over the same run. Plus, there's a literal river underneath.
Securing laminated timber to a roof using only cables required considerable thought and creativity. "How does their geometry change when you move them?" questions Correa of the various elements. In the end the engineers fabricated universal joints to connect cables and glulam, and the result is as stunning as it is supportive.
"In museums you want light, and also not," adds Correa, mindful of visitor needs and art preservation. Between the beams, strategically placed skylights can be found throughout.
"It's a lot to take in," says Jacobs, as an enticement, not warning. Every gallery is a different color - green, blue, red, and so forth - complementing the art within.
Founded by Alice Walton with an $800-million endowment from the Walton Family Foundation, every moment here connects artwork, architecture and nature. "We really put the guest experience at the center of those three things," says Laura Jacobs, director of communications. Between each gallery, she says, there are touch points, or places were visitors can see water, green, and sky as a respite from the world-class art. Others may prefer to read more about the art they just experienced - touch points have mini libraries too.