Pentagram Architects complete the new Harley Davidson Museum
To get himself revved up about designing the first museum for America’s iconic motorcycle, Harley Davidson, Pentagram partner, James Biber got himself a Harley and rode it to work each day from his Brooklyn residence to his office in Manhattan. It was an exercise that helped Biber codify the quintessential qualities of the Harley brand and culture and bring them to design of the museum.
Biber has designed a museum whose construction recalls the fabrication of a Harley motorbike on a 60-acre site whose openness captures the spirit of a motor rally. The result is a museum experience that should resonate with Harley enthusiasts worldwide.
Rather than design a single building, Biber choose instead to design a series of buildings connected with bridges, an organization inspired by a ‘factory town”. Three buildings, which house galleries, archives, and a store, are arranged around an intersection of 60ft wide roads that are broad enough for four rows of parking, two traffic lanes and hoards of visiting bikes which serve as temporary exhibits.
The buildings take on an industrial aesthetic, with lots of glass and exposed steel frames inspired by the Harley’s exposed V-twin engine. When approaching from the West, the main museum building rises in steps from 15’ to 80’ culminating in iconic towers. Louvered spaces above the towers, which function to conceal the central chillers and equipment, house meeting rooms that provide spectacular views.
The complex is completed with an open tower of steel, holding a monumental three-dimensional “Bar & Shield” the iconic symbol of Harley Davidson.
The $75 Million Museum opened to the public in July.