SmithGroupJJR complete a place for learning about art, within the art itself
Flanking the majestic peristyle of Eliel Saarinen's renowned Art Museum, the new Collections Building redefines the forecourt with a quiet demeanor, while reinforcing the powerful entry sequence to the Museum.
Composed of three rectangular volumes, the building is designed as a place of learning about art, within the art itself. Nearly doubling the Museum's floor space, the building allows for the full 6,000 piece collection of furniture, textiles, ceramics and fine art from famed alumni, faculty and designers, such as Charles and Ray Eames, Florence Knoll and Andy Warhol among others, to be displayed and accessed, underscoring the pedagogical mission of bringing the collection to life for generations.
Many museums have extraordinary private collections, most of which are unseen by the public.The Collections Building's model of open storage reinvents the relationship of the artwork with the public. The notion was that museums could make much more of their collections available to the viewing audience within their own collection storage space. Because of the way the Collections Building is designed, the public can be brought face-to-face with the art and utilize the collection in ways that were not done before.
Conceptually designed as a warehouse, the interior employs utilitarian concrete block construction, enhanced to an artistic light. The standard blocks are raked and the coating retained to create a luminous backdrop for the museum's finely crafted details. Sapele plank doors are introduced with custom stainless steel push and pulls to accentuate threshold crossings. Reinforcing the notion of entering a "sacred vault", lighting renders the entry with undulating brightness and textural accents.
The addition also houses the main mechanical plant, re-designed to regulate temperature and humidity at a constant level year round. Without the improvements, the Museum was at high risk of losing its American Association of Museums accreditation.