The architectural double in the museum city

DATE:  Fall 2015

SCHOOL: Harvard Graduate School of Design; Cambridge, Massachusetts

PROFESSOR:  Mark Lee and Sharon Johnston (principals JohnstonMarkLee)

PROJECT LOCATION: Chicago, Illinois

PROGRAM:  art museum

 

Through the design of a new free-standing building for the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago (MCA), this studio postulates that the planning of the city could approximate the model of a museum, where buildings are curated, exhibited, and preserved within a city as if they were artifacts within a museum.  This project takes the position of the architectural double as one of opposition to the existing Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago – specifically in the way the museum situates itself within the city and adjacent neighborhood. While the existing MCA fronts a feeling of impermeability, ornateness, and dislocation of space, the double rethinks these conditions through the concepts of symmetry and dissymmetry.  The double addresses this issue in two ways: the first through the dialogue with the MCA on the west; a curved facade hugs the existing building to create an intimate transition and gathering area. The second through the new formed connection to the park on the east side that funnels and pulls people forward into the museum; which allows them to gradually sink into the building – where the circulation plane continues from the park into the interior. The spatial organization of the space is organized to allow for an open interior and visually lighter building – qualities opposite from the existing condition. The gallery and program occupy the center of the plan, while the North and South bars house service amenities and storage creating compression to the West and East facades. The circulation throughout the museum allows the visitor to transverse throughout the site and interior all the while connecting to the adjacent context and city – a value the currently introverted MCA does not provide.