For the Aspen Art Museum , summer's warmth, along with their new building, is just around the corner. Come August 9, the organization will open the doors of a brand-new home designed by Shigeru Ban Architects . Previously on the outskirts of the ski town, the museum has relocated into downtown Aspen, right off the main drag on East Hyman Avenue, where plans for a new structure were set in motion in 2007 with groundbreaking in August 2011.
An intricately woven exterior grid defines the new museum. Composite wood similar to a cardboard, a favorite of Ban’s work, intertwines to form latticework that creates a distinctive bridge between the interior and exterior, allowing passerby to view into the museum. While museums can be perceived as intimidating, the Aspen Art Museum aimed for approachability.
A notable interior feature is the grand staircase, which runs along the side of the museum from the bottom floor up to the fourth. Ban designed the space to be experienced from the top down, saying, “It’s like the experience of skiing—you go up to the top of the mountain, enjoy the view, and then slide down.” Visitors are encouraged to climb to the top of the building to the rooftop sculpture garden—where glass café walls can slide away in warm weather—and proceed through the six galleries in the floors below. Additionally, the museum affords the only unobstructed public rooftop view of the iconic Ajax Mountain.
The museum's inaugural programming includes "Shigeru Ban: Humanitarian Architecture" as well as a site-specific installation by Cai Guo-Qiang for the roof deck sculpture garden.