2012 Portman Prize Finalist
Located at the intersection of 10th Street and Atlantic Drive, the project is not only the northern gateway to the campus, but also the entry to the Eco Commons. The proposal strives to define a new, livelier and more walkable, character of 10th Street as well as invite the community to the university’s park and garden. The building greets the street through an immersed in light civic plaza with a reflective pool. Museum café and gift shop are positioned on each site of the entry plaza, creating an inviting street front. The reflective pool consists of a wall of water that like a transparent curtain spans across the view onto the Eco Commons to slowly reveal the garden upon passing through the water threshold. When approaching the building from the street one not only sees the glimpses of the garden on the ground floor, but also of the art above screened by a channel glass wall.
Behind the water wall one will discover a large open to the sky courtyard that can allow the visitors to transition from daily activities of the street to viewing of the art. At this point the juxtaposed garden on the ground level and art above are unobstructed and clearly visible. The courtyard overlooks and lines up with the Eco Commons pond while two monumental stairs allow the visitor to descent to into the garden. The upper level of the structure is dedicated solely to the gallery spaces with its façade rhetorically wrapped in vegetation. This design move further restates the concept of juxtaposition of art and garden with a wall having garden on one site and art on the other. Before entering the museum, one is required to cross the courtyard and view the garden. As the café and gift shop, the museum entry and reception, as well as the auditorium space become vitrines to engage the surrounding. The promenade continues along large spiraling stair with light as a guide entering only from above.
Upon arriving at the gallery level, the visitor accouters the library and the view of the courtyard across an outdoor reading terrace over to the sculpture terrace on the opposite site. The garden is woven into the courtyard at the gallery level and represented in a single garden wall reflected in a pool below. The temporary and permanent galleries are positioned parallel to the street and the garden with interstitial spaces on each side. The gallery is a juxtaposition of translucent and opaque qualities with one wall and the floor slab being solid and the opposite wall along with the roof being glazed. The exhibition space is inward oriented allowing only for limited views of the surrounding: along both directions of 10th St and along the two paths on each side of the Eco Commons pond. The structure becomes a modern impluvium and is designated to collect rainwater for irrigation of the vertical garden and supply of the reflective pool. The roof of the museum slopes inward with water carried around the parameter and drain downward behind the courtyard’s green wall into the upper pool and along the wall of water to the pool in the entry plaza. The water overflow is stored by a cistern beneath the building.