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.
Location: Tel Aviv, Israel
Size: 18,500 sq. m.
Schedule: First Prize Winner in the Herta and Paul Amir International Competition, 2003; Design Development and Construction Documents, 2005-2007; Construction, 2007-2011
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)