Coop Himmelb(l)au Reinvents Akron Art Museum
The price of modernity? A cool $38 million.
Meaghan O'Neill -- Interior Design, 6/2/2006 12:00:00 AM
Akron, Ohio may be better known as a city of industry than as a city of modern architecture, but that may change when the Akron Art Museum unveils its $38 million, 63,300-square-foot addition next May. Designed by the celebrated Viennese architecture firm Coop Himmelb(l)au as a nexus for civic activity, the new Akron Art Museum will “literally and metaphorically” be open to both its environs and the public.
With 7,300 square feet of new space dedicated to changing exhibitions and 13,000 square feet for permanent collections, flexible new galleries will allow the museum to finally exhibit large-scale works, such as a site-specific wall mural by Sol LeWit that will be installed in the new lobby, where the old and new buildings are joined. Other new facilities include classrooms, an auditorium, a grand lobby, extensive storage, and outdoor dining facilities.
Coop Himmelb(l)au’s design for the new building hinges on three distinct elements, which include the Crystal, a three-story glass lobby and public entry space; the Gallery Box, a large, flexible exhibition space; and the Roof Cloud, a 300-foot-long cantilevered steel armature that extends over the buildings and the adjacent street. The new addition is the first public structure in the United States designed by the Coop Himmelb(l)au, which is well known for its extensive work in Europe and was selected for the Akron project from an international competition.
"The new building demonstrates how museums have changed in the past generation—rejecting the idea of the museum as a palace or bank vault and establishing it as a lively civic entity at the heart of the community," says Mitchell Kahan, director of the Akron Art Museum.
Inaugural exhibitions at the Akron Art Museum, which will now total 84,300 square feet, will focus on works from its permanent collection, including pieces that have rarely been displayed, as well as new commissions.
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