A Cultural Kaleidoscope

reviews, articles and musings on art, music, travel, culture, and life...

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

I'm Walking a Line...Visiting Buildings in Motion

A large gray-white structure mirroring a towering wedding cake with off-kilter layers or a teetering game of Jenga emerges out of a skyline where seedy restaurant supply stores meet posh condos and upscale shops. Amidst the ongoing renovations of the Bowery, the New Museum of Contemporary Art in NYC opened the doors of its new location (on the former site of a parking lot) to the public on its 30th anniversary on December 1st.

Japanese architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa designed the museum with a contemporary-looking exterior unlike other buildings in the city. The structure consists of corrugated aluminum paneling with larger scales of aluminum mesh layered over the seven stories, which are stacked on top of one another as if they may topple at any moment. From the outside, this honeycomb effect highlights the design and gives it a light and airy look like a piece of breathable fabric; but from the inside looking out, some areas are reminiscent of a chain link fence or the inhibiting view an inmate may have of the outside world.

Upon entering the front door of the museum through the glass façade of the street level entrance, guests are enveloped by a vast open space with stark white walls, concrete floors, and a glass enclosed gallery space. The crisp, simple design focuses more on the quality and quantity of lighting rather than the square footage of the space. As the structure of the building shifts in various directions with each level, it lends itself to several diverse and column-less exhibition spaces – each with different ceiling heights, floor space, and positioning of skylights. This floor plan eases the flow of traffic and provides ample display space for freestanding exhibitions and mounted works in varying natural light.

The structure of the New Museum coveys motion and further stresses the idea of the contemporary art it houses – always moving into the future and ever-changing.


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