Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
Steven Holl Architects
The addition to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art runs
along the eastern edge of the museum campus and provides a
counterpoint to the original 1933 Beaux-Arts
The new museum, five distinct levels of expansive, light-filled galleries, will open to the public on June 9th, increasing the museum space by more than 70 percent.
Facing the new entrance plaza and reflecting pool, designed in
collaboration with Walter de Maria. the new bright and transparent
glass lobby invites the public into the experiences of the
Nelson-Atkins Museum. At night the glowing glass of the new lobby
provides an inviting transparency announcing events and
The idea of complimentary contrast, the Stone and the Feather, drove our design for the addition to the classical stone temple and surrounding landscape. The addition is not an object: we envisioned a new paradigm fusing landscape and architecture. In contrast to the stone building, the new lightweight architecture of glass lenses is scattered about the landscape framing sculpture gardens./Steven Holl
Holl and Chris McVoy refer to the five volumes as "lenses" because of the way they bring light into the galleries and subtly reshape one's views of the space. The volume's forms were driven in part by the idea of a parallax view, or the apparent displacement of an object caused by a change in the position from which it is viewed.
The five lenses emerge from the ground and create a dynamic
interaction between architecture and landscape, inside and outside,
translucence and opacity, tranquility and energy. The lenses'
multiple layers of translucent glass gather, diffuse and refract
light, at times materializing light like blocks of ice. During the
day the lenses inject varying qualities of light into the
galleries, while at night the sculpture garden glows with their
internal light. A court dedicated to the Museum's significant
holdings of Isamu Noguchi sculptures.
The sculpture garden continues up and over the gallery roofs,
and provides sustainable green roofs to achieve high insulation and
control storm water. The "meandering path" threaded between the
lenses in the Sculpture Park has its sinuous complement in the open
flow through the continuous level of galleries below.
The galleries, organized in sequence to support the progression
of the collections, gradually step down into the Park, and are
punctuated by views into the landscape. As visitors move through
the new addition, they will experience a flow between light, art,
architecture and landscape.
The movement of the body as it crosses through overlapping perspectives, through the landscape and the free movement threaded between the light gathering lenses of the new addition are the elemental connections between ourselves and architecture.
Facts about Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
Sculpture Park: 22 ac
Steven Holl & Chris McVoy
Martin Cox & Richard Tobias
Architect of Record:
Berkebile Nelson Immenschuh McDowell (BNIM)
J. E. Dunn Construction
Arup, New York City
Berkebile Nelson Immenschuh McDowell Architects
Guy Nordenson and Associates
Associate structural engineer:
Structural Engineering Associates
Ove Arup & Partners with W.L. Cassell Associates
Gould Evans and Olin Partnership
Last updated: January 14, 2013