Tel Aviv Museum of Art
Located in the center of the city’s cultural complex, the program for the Tel Aviv Museum of Art Amir Building posed an extraordinary architectural challenge: to resolve the tension between the tight, idiosyncratic triangular site and the museum’s need for a series of large, neutral rectangular galleries. The solution: subtly twisting geometric surfaces (hyperbolic parabolas) that connect the disparate angles between the galleries and the context while refracting natural light into the deepest recesses of the half buried building.
The building represents an unusual synthesis of two opposing paradigms for the contemporary museum: the museum of neutral white boxes and the museum of architectural spectacle. Individual, rectangular galleries are organized around the “Lightfall”, an eighty-seven foot tall spiraling atrium. The building is composed according to multiple axes that deviate significantly from floor to floor. In essence, it is a series of independent plans and steel structural systems stacked one atop the other, connected by geometric episodes of vertical circulation.
The new building refers to the original building in such a way that the two can be seen as having a family resemblance. At the same time, it relates to a larger tradition of the new that exists within Israeli architectural culture. The multiple vocabularies of Mendelsohn and Bauhaus Modernism in Tel Aviv are re-synthesized in an architectural language that is internationalist and progressive in its cultural orientation.
The Museum is located in the heart of Tel Aviv at 27 Shaul Hamelech Boulevard, set back from the street behind a large plaza. The Ministry of Justice stands to the east; the Beit Ariela Municipal Library and the Center for the Performing Arts are to the west. The site for the Amir Building is a triangular plot between the existing Museum complex, the Library and the Center for the Performing Arts.
The design for the Amir Building arises directly from the challenge of providing several floors of large, neutral, rectangular galleries within a tight, idiosyncratic, triangular site. The solution is to “square the triangle” by constructing the levels on different axes, which deviate significantly from floor to floor. In essence, the building’s levels — three above grade and two below — are structurally independent plans stacked one on top of the other.
These levels are unified by the “Lightfall”: an 87-foot-high, spiraling, top-lit atrium, whose form is defined by subtly twisting surfaces that curve and veer up and down through the building. The complex geometry of the Lightfall’s surfaces (hyperbolic parabolas) connect the disparate angles of the galleries; the stairs and ramped promenades along them serve as the surprising, continually unfolding vertical circulation system; while the natural light from above is refracted into the deepest recesses of the half-buried building. Cantilevers accommodate the discrepancies between plans and provide overhangs at the perimeter.
In this way, the Amir Bulding combines two seemingly irreconcilable paradigms of the contemporary art museum: the museum of neutral white boxes, which provides optimal, flexible space for the exhibition of art, and the museum of spectacle, which moves visitors and offers a remarkable social experience. The Amir Building’s synthesis of radical and conventional geometries produces a new type of museum experience, one that is as rooted in the Baroque as it is in the Modern.
Conceptually, the Amir Building is related to the Museum’s Brutalist main building (completed 1971; Dan Eytan, architect). At the same time, it also relates to the larger tradition of Modern architecture in Tel Aviv, as seen in the multiple vocabularies of Mendelsohn, the Bauhaus and the White City. The gleaming white parabolas of the façade are composed of 465 differently shaped flat panels made of pre-cast reinforced concrete. Achieving a combination of form and material that is unprecedented in the city, the façade translates Tel Aviv’s existing Modernism into a contemporary and progressive architectural language.
- Israeli Art galleries: 18500 square feet
- Architecture and Design galleries: 7200 square feet
- Drawings and Prints galleries: 2500 square feet
- Temporary exhibitions gallery: 9000 square feet
- Photography study center: 3700 square feet
- Art library: 10000 square feet
- Auditorium: 7000 square feet
- Restaurant: 3200 square feet
- Offices: 2700 square feet
Project name: Tel Aviv Museum of Art
Location: 27 Shaul Hamelech Boulevard, Tel Aviv, Israel
Program: 200,000 sq. ft (18,500 m2) includes Galleries of Israeli Art, Architecture and Design, Drawings and Prints, Temporary Exhibitions; Photography Study Center and Archives; Multidisciplinary Auditorium; Seminar and Conference Rooms; Art Library; Restaurant; Administrative Offices; Loading, Unpacking and Storage.
Project Schedule: First Prize Winner in the Herta and Paul Amir International
Design Development Construction Documents: 2005-2007
Project Budget: $55,000,000
- 2012 Travel + Leisure Magazine Awards – Best Museum
- 2012 Conde Nast Traveller Magazine Awards – nominated in the Culture category Innovation & Design Awards
Client / Owner / Developer: Motti Omer, Director and Chief Curator
Architects: Preston Scott Cohen INC
Project Team: Preston Scott Cohen, Inc., Cambridge, MA, Preston Scott Cohen (Design); Amit Nemlich (Project Architect); Tobias Nolte, Steven Christensen, Guy Nahum, Gjergj Bakallbashi, Bohsung Kong (Project Assistants); Models: Jonathan Lott (Lightfall); Isamu Kanda (Massing in Situ); Renderings: Chris Hoxie (Exterior, Lightfall); Agito Design Studios (Lobby and Gallery Views); Competition Project Team: Scott Cohen, Cameron Wu, Andrew Saunders, Janny Baek; Competition Consultants: Ove Arup and Partners, Caroline Fitzgerald, Tom Dawes, Mark Walsh-Cooke (Structural and MEP); Hanscomb Faithful and Gould (Cost Estimator)
General Contractor: Hezkelevitch Engineering
Project Management: CPM Construction Management Ltd.
Structural Engineers: YSS Consulting Engineers Ltd., Dani Shacham
Principal HVAC: M. Doron – I. Shahar and Co., Consulting Eng. Ltd.
Lighting: Tillotson Design Associates, New York
Accessibility: Michael Roitman
Acoustics: M.G. Acistical Consultants Ltd.
Auditorium: David Braslavi
Cost Estimation: Gamzo
Electrical: U. Brener – A. Fattal Electrical and Systems Engineering Ltd.
Elevators: ESL- Eng. S. Lustig – Consulting Engineers Ltd.
Food Services: Zonnenstein; Maintenance: Valtman
Multi-media: Gera Yoav
Public Shelter: K.A.M.N
Safety: S. Netanel Engineers Ltd.
Sanitation: Gruber Art System Engineering Ltd.
Security: H.M.T., Tel Aviv
Soil: David David; Survey: B. Gattenyu
Traffic: Dagesh Engineering, Traffic and Road Design Ltd.
Text Description: © Courtesy of Preston Scott Cohen INC
Images: © Amit Geron