- Opening of the revamped Cooper Hewitt in New York
We’re sort of used to the idea that the real attraction of modern-day museums is not so much the content as the container, often so spectacular that the impression we take away is the iconic architecture rather than the collections displayed.
The transformation of the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York City is a pleasant step away from the race for an icon at all costs, and actually focuses on the museum’s core business: displaying temporary collections and exhibitions, using state-of-the-art technology to improve the experience of visitors who can now really interact and participate in the museum activities.
A team of leading design firms joined forces for the project, including Gluckman Mayner Architects for the interior renovation, and Beyer Blinder Belle Architects and Planners LLP, which supervised the engineering and historic-preservation aspects. The result is that the building designed by Richard Schermerhorn Jr. in 1901 has 60% more space, focusing on enhanced public access to every level, upgraded natural lighting in the galleries and more flexible spaces to reduce installation time of exhibitions. This has been managed without spectacular extensions, simply by intelligently reprogramming Carnegie Mansion and the adjacent townhouses, as well as reconfiguring conservation and collection-storage facilities.
A sustainable museum project that makes the most of the existing landmark, putting the design and ideas displayed to the forefront, rather than the designers.
Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, http://www.cooperhewitt.org/
New York City, USA
Gluckman Mayner Architects, Beyer Blinder Belle Architects and Planners LLP, Diller Sfofidio + Renfro, Thinc Design, Local Projects, Goppion
Completion: December 2014
Photography: © 2014 Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum - images from Matt Flynn, James Rodnick