Construction is underway in Chicago for the National Hellenic Museum, the first U.S. institution dedicated to honouring Greek culture, art and history. The museum, by global design firm RTKL, is scheduled for completion in fall 2011.
The museum is constructed with natural limestone and glass, materials that respond to the artistic and technological transitions Greeks have undergone from the Classical Age to the modern day.
The building incorporates historic architectural references such as a covered walkway, or stoa, found in classical pagan structures and natural wood accents and elements common to Byzantine monastic structures.
The symbolic heart of the new building is a dramatic, sky-lit east-to-west staircase that represents the immigrant experience, cultural ties to Greece and the limitless potential of Greek Americans in the United States.
The 40,000 sq ft facility will include exhibit spaces, a research library, an oral history center, and administrative offices. The first floor will house the Calamos Great Hall, a 5,300 sq ft space for temporary exhibitions, private events and a museum store.
The second floor will contain the Halikias Family Exhibition Hall for permanent exhibitions, as well as an education center with classrooms and an art studio. The third floor will house the Gus and Mary Stathis Library, the Frank S. Kamberos Oral History Center, a recording studio and staff offices. A 3,600 sq ft rooftop terrace will offer city views and feature three gardens.
The building, designed to meet LEED Silver certification, also utilizes the latest in glazing, lighting, green roof and HVAC technologies.