A not-so-good architectural review of CBMAA | Rock Candy

Monday, October 3, 2011

A not-so-good architectural review of CBMAA

Posted By on Mon, Oct 3, 2011 at 4:55 PM

Artists rendering of the museum, to open Nov. 11.
  • Artist's rendering of the museum, to open Nov. 11.

Sorry to be dribbling this stuff out, but here's another piece from the Washington Post about Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art — this one a critical look at the architecture, by arts critic Philip Kennicott. He really hates the name, which he says "recalls the bland monikers of thousands of homogenized subdivisions," and is less than enthusiastic about the Moshe Safdie, but he finds some things to like:

There is a substantial “wow” factor to the building, but no one would ever call it refined, or meticulous or perfectly wrought. Safdie’s design is often sloppy, with elements that feel provisional, afterthoughts or improvisations. Metal panels have been added to the building’s exterior to cover structural elements — enormous cable stays that hold up the pavilions — that would have been appealing if left exposed. For some reason, a circular courtyard at the entry level to the main museum is divided, without symmetry, by a mysterious joint. An ugly black fence prevents visitors from wandering from the forest onto one of building’s roofs.

But there are compensating elements. The building has been set into a bowl blasted out of a forested basin. Care was taken to nestle the building tightly into the space, without damaging the surrounding forest, which is held back by enormous retaining walls that were still partly visible during a visit in late September. When the ponds are full and the retaining walls hidden from view (by dirt fill and vegetation), the “river runs through it” effect could be stunning.

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