It’s unusual to see such an expansion, particularly on a museum, as the architects designed it with the intention of building something with a high visual impact which would be environmentally and energetically sustainable.
The expansion, built alongside the old museum building in neo-Renaissance style, presents a multi-faceted core of glass and steel referred to as the Crystal. The Crystal is constructed in the studio’s familiar architectural idiom, welcoming visitors and orienting them in the museum’s interior while offering them an architectural experience with all the excitement and originality we have come to associate with the studio’s projects.
The architects have covered all this with a big semi-transparent roof, made not of classic glass but orsogril, supported by imposing cantilevered steel girders. In this way they obtain an architectural hat of metal screening out the sun’s rays: the roof absorbs the sun’s rays and dissipates them instantly, as it is a body almost entirely disconnected from the rest of the building. This is made possible structurally by a box-shaped post in its centre, with overhangs of several metres, a design expedient ensuring that the glass core below receives no direct sunlight, which would have a devastating effect on both the artworks and the visitors.
What’s more, the Crystal is designed to create microclimatic zones appropriate for requirements, while making intelligent use of the potential of the material chosen to build it. In the same way, the floor slabs act as true radiating plates, helping control the climate inside the building, warming or cooling it as required.
Client: Akron Art Museum, Akron, Ohio, USA
Planning: COOP HIMMELB(L)AU – Wolf D. Prix, Helmut Swiczinsky + Partner ZT GmbH
Design Principal: Wolf D. Prix
Project Partner: Michael Volk
Design Architects: Tom Wiscombe, Mona Marbach
Project Architect: Angus Schoenberger
Project Team: Mona Bayr, Marcelo Bernardi, Lorenz Bürgi, Mohamed Fezazi, Robert Haranza, Daniela Kobel, Dan Narita, Florian Pfeifer, Dionicio Valdez, Philip Vogt
Executive Architect: Westlake, Reed, Leskosky, Cleveland, Ohio, USA
Structural Engineering: B+G Ingenieure, Bollinger und Grohmann GmbH, Frankfurt, Germany; De Simone Consulting Engineers, San Francisco, USA
Mechanical Engineering: IBE Consulting Engineers, Los Angeles, USA
Acoustical Engineering: Arup Acoustics, New York, USA
Lighting Design: George Sexton Associates, Washington DC, USA
Site Area: 8,370 m²
Total usable Floor Area: 8,244 m²
Existing Building (renovation) usable Floor Area: 2,367 m²
Extension (new construction) usable Floor Area: 5,877 m²
Building Height existing Museum: 16,75 metres
Building Height new Building:
Gallery Box: 11,25 metres, High Roof: 17.5 metres, Crystal: 17.5 meters
Max. Building Length: 76 meters (Gallery Box)
Max. Building Width: 38 meters (Gallery Box)
Photo: © Roland Halbe
Plans and Diagrams: © COOP HIMMELB(L)AU