A glimmering metal mesh-clad stack of boxes shifted off
axis in a dynamic composition.
The New Museum is located on the Bowery at a pivotal geographic and cultural intersection where generations of artists have lived, worked, and contributed to the ongoing cultural dialogue of the nation.
The building, a dramatic stack of six rectangular boxes, is clad
in a seamless, anodized expanded aluminum mesh to emphasize the
volumes of the boxes while dressing the whole of the building with
a delicate, softly shimmering skin.
With windows just visible behind this porous scrim-like surface, the building appears as a single, coherent form that is nevertheless mutable, dynamic, and animated by the changing light of day.
The distinctive form derives directly from the architect's defining solution to the fundamental challenges of their site and an ambitious program, including the need for open, flexible gallery spaces of different heights and atmospheres, that had to be accommodated within a tight zoning envelope on a 71 feet wide and 112 feet deep footprint.
In order to address these conditions without creating a
monolithic, dark, and airless building, SANAA assigned key
programmatic elements to a series of levels (the six boxes),
stacked those boxes according to the anticipated needs and
circulation patterns of building users, then drew the different
levels away from the vertebrae of the building core laterally to
south, east, or west.
The solution of the shifted boxes arrived quickly and intuitively. Then through trial and error we arrived at the final, ideal configuration. Now we have a building that meets the city, allows natural light inside, gives the Museum column-free galleries and programmatic flexibility, and expresses the program and people inside to the world of New York outside./SANAA
Visitors are drawn into the New Museum by views through a nearly
15 foot-tall plane of clear plate glass stretching across the full
width of the building.
The lobby area, a transition from the color and buzz of the Bowery neighborhood, is a luminous, pale space with polished gray concrete floors.
This grand but intimate Marcia Tucker Hall contains the New
Museum Store, defined by a serpentine screen of metal mesh, the
The Joan and Charles Lazarus Gallery is separated from the rest of the space by a soaring glass wall, and illuminated by daylight filtering down from the shift of the structural box above.
A floating dropped screen of metal mesh softens and abstracts
the largely visible functions of the ceiling above it, filtering
light from a grid of glowing but delicate florescent tubes.
From the lobby level visitors may choose a variety of paths upward or downward through the building.
The 182-seat Peter Jay Sharp Theater, a "white box" theater with a pre-function hall that doubles as a gallery for special projects, is located on the lower level.
The galleries on the buildings second, third, and fourth floors are all freed from columns by the structural support of the core. The light in all the building's galleries can be controlled through a system of shades beneath the glass.
With the galleries in this building, we tried to play with dimensions and the way daylight falls in the spaces. This allows the visitor to experience art in slightly different conditions on different visits, at different times of the day, in different spaces, without impeding the qualities of the art.
An open stairway, running 50 feet upward along the building's north side, connects the third and fourth floors.
The structural steel makes frequent appearances throughout the building. The diagonal structural beams of the exterior, appearing at interludes, are rendered white with spray-on fireproofing material.
On the seventh floor of the building is the Toby Devan Lewis Sky Room for events and special programs. Floor to ceiling glass offers panoramic vistas of the city and an outdoor terrace runs without interruption around the east and south sides of the building.
/Lisa Phillips, Director
Sejima and Nishizawa have conceived an ideal home for the New Museum of Contemporary Art - a place that will encourage dialogue and creativity, catalyze community interaction, and spark a constant exchange of insights and information.
They have truly given form to our passionate commitment to the importance of art to everyday life. On the Bowery, the New Museum will continue our exploration of new art and new ideas with the same energy, openness to experimentation, fearlessness, and pure excitement that brought us to this remarkable milestone in the institution's history.
Setting precedent for exhibitions that will occupy its entire
building, the New Museum inaugurated the new building with
"Unmonumental," an international survey on all three main gallery
floors that openened with sculpture by 30 artists from around the
globe, then will expand over the course of five months into a
dense, teeming environmental experience through the addition of
layers of collage, sound, and Internet-based art.
Facts about New Museum
Total Floor Area:
Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa
Chief Project Architect:
Gensler, New York
James C. Parker
Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa
Texts by: Agustin Pérez Rubio, Kristine Gúzman, Luis
Fernandez Galiano, Yuko Hasegawa
For the first time in publication, a collection of housing projects by SANAA. Both finished: House A, S House, House in a Plum Grove, Small House and Moriyama House, and unfinished projects: Flower House, Garden & House, Seijo Apartments, Ichikawa Apartments, House in China and Eda Apartments.
SANAA's architecture embraces complexities within deceptively simple appearances. It has many elements that are impossible to understand unless actually "experienced". In contrast with modern architecture, SANAA has many aspects that cannot be revealed in "representative" media such as plans, models, and photographs. The "representations" of their architectural works incorporate ambiguity and chronological elements. This characteristic makes Sanaa one of the most innovative offices in the current architectural panorama.
Photographed by Christian Richters
Last updated: December 19, 2013
Out of the Ordinary: The Architecture and Design of Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown and Associates
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA