Aspen Art Museum, natural light and transparency

Shigeru Ban,


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Aspen Art Museum, natural light and transparency

Tokyo-based Shigeru Ban Architects have designed the new Aspen Art Museum, replacing the original 9,000-square-foot facility with a structure better-equipped to accommodate the over 35,000 visitors who come from all over the world each year. Located in downtown Aspen, Colorado, the new, 30,000-square-foot building was inspired by the beauty of its natural surroundings.
Transparency and natural light are the key elements of the design. The loosely woven wooden screen that characterizes the exterior and extends over the roof prevents direct sunlight from reaching the galleries while allowing abundant natural light to penetrate. Transparent partitions divide the exhibition spaces, making it possible for natural light to reach deep into the interior. To the north, a glass façade offers breathtaking views of the mountains and stacking glass shutters to the south open onto an outdoor terrace.

The wooden structure over the roof  includes a series of skylights which cover 50% of the building, allowing natural light to flood the top floor spaces and filter down to light up the lower levels thanks to glass floors. It also provides natural shade for the rooftop sculpture garden, which offers panoramic views of the nearby mountains.
The rooftop garden area can be accessed by way of an open-air staircase located between the open-weave wooden frame and glass curtain wall; mobile pedestals offer unexpected displays of artwork to those ascending the staircase.
The three levels of the new museum will be linked by a spacious glass elevator, meant to give the impression of a moving room. In addition to the exhibitions spaces and rooftop garden, these three levels will include a reception area, classroom, bookshop, museum gift shop, café, library, office space, art storage and artist-in-residence studio.


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