Museum of Contemporary Art
Richard Meier & Partners

February 25, 2002 /

Barcelona, Spain

macba_1.jpgPhoto: arcspace

Located in an area that was a previously a monastic enclave, this museum establishes a rigorous dialogue between the area's historic urban fabric and the contemporary art within.

The nature of the site's existing paths and routes is reflected in the building's organization, most notably in the main entry, which is paralleled by a pedestrian passageway between the museum's public Sculpture Garden and a newly created plaza in front of the Museum, to be known as the Plaça dels Angels. This paseo will join the existing pedestrian network running through the old city.

Photo: arcspace

Photo: arcspace

It seemed to me that the best approach would be to provide different kinds of exhibition or gallery spaces for the Museum, rather than a repetitive system of spaces, since the artworks to be shown would have different scales at different times - sometimes large, sometimes small, sometimes needing light, sometimes needing no light. So we developed a series of spaces that could accommodate all kinds of activities and exhibitions.

/Richard Meier

Clad in white enamelled-steel panels, the plaza elevation is animated by the horizontal louvers of the ramp-hall and by two plaster sculptural elements, a cut-out plane above the entrance and a free-form, top-lit "special exhibitions" gallery set in advance of the building at the eastern end of the main facade.

Photo: arcspace
Photo: arcspace
Once past the low portico, visitors enter the museum via a cylindrical lobby. From the entry lobby, visitors ascend a vertical ramp within the triple-height Atrium. Extensively glazed and affording broad views of the Plaça, this transparent volume orients the visitor, mediating between the Museum's most public space and the volumes of the galleries. The louvered glass wall of the ramp also filters natural light.

Photo: arcspace
Photo: arcspace
Photo: arcspace

The ramp hall, which is primary circulation space, became that public space. You look out to the city on one side and into the galleries on the other side. As you move through the Museum, you are constantly aware of the ramp hall. It provides a space of orientation, a public space, a multi-use space, a space of access and circulation.

/Richard Meier

Photo: arcspace
Photo: arcspace
Accessed via the circulation ramp, the principal gallery spaces reflect in their bulk and placement the general mass of the adjacent Casa de la Caritat. Large, open, loft-like spaces, they have been designed to showcase art of various sizes and dimensions.

To enter the main galleries, visitors cross over translucent glass-block floors whose luminous surface creates a welcoming light-saturated environment. Louvered skylights above the main galleries illuminate the art below. Light is truly an elemental and critical design element in this building.

Photo: arcspace
Photo: arcspace
The museum clearly reveals in plan the system of coordinates on which it is laid out; a system that derives from the overall urban situation and the "ideological" stratification brought to bear on the basic project decisions once these have been defined. The scheme thus reaffirms the principle of "singularity of the urban villa" applied to the built public space in the case of a highly complex urban fabric, as here in the vicinity of the historic Casa de la Caritat; the area near the Ramblas, in the Old Gothic Quarter.

Drawing courtesy Richard Meier & Partners
Site Plan

Drawing courtesy Richard Meier & Partners
Ground Floor Plan

Drawing courtesy Richard Meier & Partners
Site South Elevation

Drawing courtesy Richard Meier & Partners
North Elevation

Drawing courtesy Richard Meier & Partners
Transverse Section

Facts about Museum of Contemporary Art

Total floor area:

13,800 square meters

Richard Meier & Partners

Design Team:

Richard Meier
Thomas Phifer

Project Architects:

Reynolds Logan
Alfonso Perez-Mendez (Construction)


Daniel Brown
Steve Dayton
Patrick Flynn
Raphael Justewicz
Jonathan Marvel
Gilbert Rampy, Jr.
Madeline Sanchez
Thomas Savory
David Shilling

Associate Architect:

F. J. Ramos i Associats
Isabel Bachs
Fernando Ramos

Structural Engineer:

Obiol, Brufau, Moya Arquitectos

Mechanical Engineer:

Estudi d'Arquitectura G.L.
Francesc Labastida i Azemar

General Contractor:


Lighting Consultant:

Fisher Marantz Renfro Stone, Inc.


Consorci Museu d'Art Contemporani

Last updated: December 19, 2013

See also

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