MUSEUM’S NEW WEST BUILDING—CENTERPIECE OF MAJOR EXPANSION— RECEIVES 2011 HONOR AWARD FOR ARCHITECTURE, AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF ARCHITECTS’ HIGHEST RECOGNITION
The North Carolina Museum of Art’s (NCMA) new building, designed by the New York City-based Thomas Phifer and Partners, has been awarded a 2011 American Institute of Architects (AIA) Honor Award, the AIA’s highest recognition for building design.
The 127,000-square-foot, single-story project—one of only ten to receive the Honor Award for Architecture this year—was selected from hundreds of submissions worldwide. The AIA announcement of the Award notes the building interior’s “gently luminous setting,” the result of natural light that is filtered through hundreds of elliptical oculi in the ceiling, and the way in which its exterior, enclosed in matte aluminum panels, “continue[s] the discourse with the landscape” and offers “unexpected and scintillating reflections.” West Building, which opened to the public in April 2010, is the central component of the Museum’s recently completed three-year expansion. It dramatically transformed the visitor experience of both the Museum itself and the 164-acre park in which it is sited, and with which West Building is visually and experientially integrated. Indeed, the building is surrounded by five courtyards, each of which seems to enter the structure, breaching the perimeter of what would otherwise be a rectangular plan. All of the courtyards—which were designed by Phifer and Partners, with Lappas + Havener, PA—are visible through the building’s glass walls, and four of them are accessible directly from the interior.
Inside the building, a capacious sculpture hall and some 65,000 square feet of galleries showcase the Museum’s wide-ranging collection under conditions in which, according to the AIA announcement, “the artwork takes on heightened vividness.” With entry and exit points throughout, the galleries invite personal exploration and encourage visitors to make their own connections among and between the works on view. Since last April, nearly 340,000 visitors have experienced the new building.
One of the most important museums in the American South, the North Carolina Museum of Art houses the art collections of the State of North Carolina. The State’s initial 1947 appropriation of $1 million was used to purchase 139 European and American paintings and sculptures.In 1960, the Museum’s collection was immeasurably enriched with the gift of 75 works of art from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, making the NCMA the country’s second-largest repository of Kress gifts, exceeded only by the National Gallery of Art, in Washington, DC.
In addition to creating West Building, the North Carolina Museum of Art expansion project included the transformation of the 1983 East Building, originally designed by Edward Durell Stone, into a center for temporary exhibitions, education, and public programs, and the acquisition of more than 200 works of art through gifts, promised gifts, commissions, and purchase. The renovated East Building opened to the public in November 2010.
For over 150 years, members of the American Institute of Architects have worked with each other and their communities to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings and cityscapes. Members adhere to a code of ethics and professional conduct to ensure the highest standards in professional practice. Embracing their responsibility to serve society, AIA members engage civic and government leaders and the public in helping find needed solutions to pressing issues facing our communities, institutions, nation, and world. Visit www.aia.org.