20 cups of coffee later, our IGS research team has scoured through architectural records and found 5 museum buildings/ “pieces of art” that broke the mould. In contrast to the old school brick boxes that housed conventional art and artifacts, (you know the ones, where you have to drag the kids heal and toe to) these architectural marvels required not only technological innovation, but inspired creative genius, very fitting considering their purpose. Enjoy our list of 5 Museums that “broke the mould”…
1 Louvre-Abu Dhabi (Jean Nouvel)
It is a project founded on a major symbol of Arab architecture: the dome. But here, with its evident shift from tradition, the dome is a modern proposal. All climates like exceptions. Warmer when it is cold. Cooler in the tropics. People do not resist thermal shock well. Nor do works of art. Such elementary observations have influenced the Louvre Abu Dhabi. It wishes to create a welcoming world serenely combining light and shadow, reflection and calm. It wishes to belong to a country, to its history, to its geography without becoming a flat translation, the pleonasm that results in boredom and convention. It also aims at emphasizing the fascination generated by rare encounters.
“A double dome 180 meters in diameter, offering horizontal, perfectly radiating geometry, a randomly perforated woven material, providing shade punctuated by bursts of sun. The dome gleams in the Abu Dhabi sunshine. At night, this protected landscape is an oasis of light under a starry dome”.
2 The Louis Vuitton Foundation, Paris, France (Frank Gehry)
From an initial sketch drawn on a blank page in a notebook to the transparent cloud sitting at the edge of the Jardin d’Acclimatation in the Bois de Boulogne, Frank Gehry constantly sought to “design, in Paris, a magnificent vessel symbolising the cultural calling of France”. A creator of dreams, he has designed a unique, emblematic and bold building. From the invention of glass curved to the nearest millimetre for the 3,600 panels that form the Fondation’s twelve sails to the 19,000 panels of Ductal (fibre-reinforced concrete), each one unique, that give the iceberg its immaculate whiteness, and not forgetting a totally new design process, each stage of construction pushed back the boundaries of conventional architecture to create a unique building that is the realisation of a dream.
“To reflect our constantly changing world, we wanted to create a building that would evolve according to the time and the light in order to give the impression of something ephemeral and continually changing”.
3 Grand Louvre Modernization, Paris, France (I.M. Pei)
Pei offered his “luminous structure-symbol” as an ingenious way to avoid upstaging the Louvre. No solid addition imaginable could gracefully blend with the time-darkened old palace, he reasoned, but a translucent pyramid, frankly of its own time, would repectfully defer to the heavy presence of the sorrounding building by reflecting this tawny stone. The pyramid is the geometric shape that encloses the greatest area within the smallest possible volume, so it would stand as unobtrusively as possible. It was, Pei assured them, “a natural solution.” There was one more pleasing twist: the ancient form made of high-tech material would be at once much older and much newer than the Louvre.
“The center of gravity of the museum had to be in the Cour Napoleon…That’s where the public had to come. But what do you do when you arrive? Do you enter into an underground space, a kind of subway concourse? No. You need to be welcomed by some kind of great space. So you’ve got to have something of our period. That space must have volume, it must have light and it must have a surface identification. You have to be able to look at it and say, `Ah, this is the entrance”.’
4 The Museo Soumaya, Mexico City, Mexico (FR-EE / Fernando Romero EnterprisE)
Museo Soumaya is home to a private art collection of nearly 70,000 works, ranging from the 15th to mid-20th Century, including a large collection of Auguste Rodin sculptures. The design of the museum reflects the collector’s eclectic taste, as well as his desire to create a new cultural institution for the public and the city. Rising 150 feet (46 mts) at the heart of a new cultural and commercial district, the building’s form is clad in a skin of 16,000 hexagonal mirrored-steel elements, refering the traditional, colonial ceramic-tiled building façades in Mexico City and giving the building a distinctly different appearance depending on the weather, time of day and the viewer’s vantage point.
“Design has to be sensitive to these transformations and integrate the available resources and technology to develop objects and solutions of its own time. Design is, on the one hand, a response of a translation process, but also an opportunity to contribute to human development.”
5 Denver Art Museum, Colorado, USA (Studio Libeskind)
Studio Libeskind’s extension to the Denver Art Museum is the Studio’s first building to reach completion in the USA. Silhouetted against the majestic backdrop of the Rocky Mountains, Libeskind’s design consists of a series of geometric volumes inspired by the peaks and valleys of the mountain range. A sharply angled cantilevered section juts across the street, pointing towards the existing Museum by Milanese architect Gio Ponti, which first opened in 1971. The architect conceived of the extension project as part of a composition of public spaces, monuments and gateways in this developing part of the city, tying together downtown, the Civic Center, and forming a strong connection to the golden triangle neighborhood. The Acoma Plaza of the Arts, which is the “front yard” of the Museum, is filled with public art (amongst them, pieces by Beverly Pepper, Claes Oldenburg, Coosje van Bruggen and Mark di Suvero) and is a stage for public events. The Museum has served as an engine of rejuvenation for the entire neighborhood with new museums and housing joining the landscape of the complex.
“The shardlike titanium-clad forms of the Denver Art Museum’s Frederic C. Hamilton Building burst on the city’s downtown with the energy of a lightning bolt. …the jagged building is a surprisingly successful tour de force on urbanistic grounds alone.”