Art & Architecture + [USA]

Shigeru Ban Architects: NEW ASPEN ART MUSEUM by SHIGERU BAN OPEN NEXT SUMMER
Aspen Art Museum by Shigeru Ban open next

The Aspen Art Museum (AAM) will open the doors of its new building designed by Shigeru Ban early in August 2014,with a dynamic slate of exhibitions in six gallery spaces.

Aspen Art Museum by Shigeru Ban open next

Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson, the director of the Aspen Art Museum, says that when Ban presented his ideas to the museum’s honchos in the summer of 2007,it was the social concerns that cropped up immediately. “He spent the first 45 minutes of his presentation talking about humanitarian architecture."

Aspen Art Museum by Shigeru Ban open next

The $45 million structure, currently under construction in downtown Aspen, is emblematic of post-recession restraint. “Museums have to be very practical, ” Ban says. “They can’t just be sculpture.” And in keeping with that ethos, the architect has delivered a simple three-story structure free of tight angles, ovoid shapes, or curving walls.

Aspen Art Museum by Shigeru Ban open next

This includes half a dozen galleries, an artist residency area, education spaces, and conservation studios, all told occupying a total 33,000 square feet. The galleries are large and column-free, with flexible partition walls capable of accommodating large-scale sculpture and installation. The rooftop garden functions as entrance hall, public gathering area, and outdoor projection space. “The program was so precise, ” Ban says. “There was no space to waste.”

Aspen Art Museum by Shigeru Ban open next

A view of the Aspen Art Museum 's roof trusses. These wavy forms, which do not require metal joints, will support the roof and partially shelter the rooftop garden, where museum attendees can take in public programming (such as film screenings) as well as ski runs in the distance. A view of the Aspen Art Museum 's roof trusses.

Aspen Art Museum by Shigeru Ban open next

These wavy forms, which do not require metal joints, will support the roof and partially shelter the rooftop garden, where museum attendees can take in public programming (such as film screenings) as well as ski runs in the distance.

Aspen Art Museum by Shigeru Ban open next

He has designed these as undulating waves of wood held together by screws, thereby eliminating the need for metal joints in the ceiling. When visitors ascend to the roof garden, they will catch a glimpse of these rolling wood waves, a sly way of inserting a decorative structural element into the building—one that doesn’t alter or inhibit the shape or feel of the galleries.

Aspen Art Museum by Shigeru Ban open next

“I wanted to make the galleries very practical, ” he says. “But I wanted to have a sense of craftsmanship paired with the whitebox.” And of course, there is environmental factor. Museums are notorious energy-guzzlers, with their stringent lighting and climate-control needs.

Aspen Art Museum by Shigeru Ban open next

Architect Zachary Moreland, AIA, is serving as the senior project architect on the building for Shigeru Ban Architects America. He says the design attempts to mitigate some of the energy consumption. “It’s an idea we call‘the thermos, ’” he says.

Aspen Art Museum by Shigeru Ban open next

“The concept is to put the most demanding spaces at the center of the building and surround them with circulation space. This created a double layer—a wrapper or envelope—around the galleries that helps maintain climate conditions in that space.” Solar panels and strategically placed skylights also help minimize the use of electricity.
Photo: Courtesy by KL&A