by D usti October 17 2004, 23:00 ARCHITECTURE - CULTURAL & EDUCATION


Kazuyo Sejima/Ryue Nishizawa
New Museum of Contemporary Art
New York, New York

"We have tried to design a transparent building in the sense that we are not hiding what is happening behind the surface of the structure."
Kazuyo Sejima/Ryue Nishizawa

The New Museum, the first major art museum to be constructed in downtown Manhattan in the city's modern history, will be located on the Bowery on what is now an 8,000 square foot parking lot.

Photo courtesy the New Museum of Contemporary Art

Scheduled to break ground in October 2004 the seven-story composition - a stack of rectangular boxes shifted off axis in different directions, clad in silvery galvanized, zinc-plated steel, and punctuated by skylights and windows offering vistas and vignettes of the city - doubles the size of the New Museum's current facilities on Broadway in SoHo.  

Photo courtesy the New Museum of Contemporary Art

In addition to dramatically expanded, flexible, and column-free exhibition space, the Bowery building will offer an innovative new media center, a black-box theater/auditorium, bookstore, expanded classrooms, library and study center, café, and wrap-around rooftop terraces.

Photo courtesy the New Museum of Contemporary Art
At night, the building's metallic exterior will be washed with artificial lighting from within.

Summarizing their approach to the design for the New Museum of Contemporary Art, SANAA has said: "The solution emerged through an extensive period of trial and error. We made numerous study models based upon the New Museum's program and the demands of the site, the zoning envelope. First we arrived at the notion of the boxes themselves; each one represents a specific piece of the program developed by the Museum. Then we tried shifting the boxes to render the inside of the building more accommodating and open, with more possibilities for daylight to enter spaces and views to appear at various points in the interiors.

We designed the building from the inside out, based upon our understanding of the Museum's needs.  Because of the kind of art the Museum shows and the curatorial approach they take, we wanted to design simple spaces - spaces without columns and with a lot of possibilities for different configurations, for placement of temporary dividing walls, and so forth - that would provide the widest range of options. We do not believe that a building should overwhelm or compete with the art presented within it, particularly when it comes to contemporary art.  So we have tried to make spaces that are inviting but straightforward."

Total area: 60,000 square feet

Estimated completion: Spring 2006.

Architects: Kazuyo Sejima/Ryue Nishizawa SANAA LTD.
Associate architects: Guggenheimer Architects, New York
Project architect: Florian Idenburg
Structural engineer: Guy Nordenson


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