Mar 15, 2008

Akron Art Museum

A hovering “cloud” connects a new light-filled atrium and windowless gallery to an existing museum.

COOP HIMMELB(L)AU believes that art should flow out of the building and the city should flow inside. Rather than going to the museum simply to look at art, visitors are encouraged to engage in artistic discourse, attend music and arts festivals, or simply to pass the time. This belief led the firm to divide its addition to the Akron Art Museum into three parts: a “Crystal,” a “Gallery Box,” and a “Roof Cloud.”
The Crystal serves as the main entry and operates as an orientation and connection space serving both the new and old buildings. It is a grand, flexible space that can also be used for banquets, arts festivals, and events hosted by outside organizations. The mass and location of the gallery box and high roof protect the southern-oriented Crystal glazing from direct sunlight. At the same time the reflectivity of the façade material raises natural light levels in the Crystal and reduces the need to power artificial light sources. Inside the Crystal, the architects and engineers created microclimate zones for heating and cooling. These different zones are determined by analyzing the type and anticipated length of occupancy in various areas of the crystal and are conditioned through both active and passive means. By eliminating the need to condition the entire volume in the Crystal, and by focusing the energy used to condition the space in the areas where people are located, operating costs and energy use are significantly reduced.
The Roof Cloud, which hovers above the building, creates a blurred edge to the museum while also providing shade for exterior spaces and operating as a horizontal landmark in the city. (to find out more..)

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