Saint Louis Art Museum
ARCHITECT: David Chipperfield Architects
CLIENT: Saint Louis Art Museum
AWARDS WON: RIBA Award for International Excellence
This project is an extension to the Cass Gilbert designed St Louis Art Gallery. The main building, designed for the 1904 World Fair, sits on an elevated site which is the focus of the magnificent parkland designed by the office of Olmsted.
Chipperfield's east wing provides much needed gallery space suitable for a very fine modern art collection and temporary shows. It also provides a new alternative (disabled compliant) entrance; a podium, concealed by the contours of the park, which offers much needed car parking; a restaurant; and a service bay for the entire gallery connecting to an underground link spine that allows for a future west wing to be built by the generation of St Louisians.
The building skilfully mediates between being a new wing/ extension and a second entrance. It is a simple classical 'Miesian' building made of massive terrazzo like polished concrete walls and glazed screens. It forms an axial relationship with the existing classically inspired building and seeks to be a continuation and eventually a termination of a spatial sequence rather than a new and other spatial experience.
The galleries themselves accept the conventional rules of white space and wooden floors but are given their powerful quality by their ceiling. This deep concrete coffer (on a 5'x10' grid) offers power, acoustics and artificial lighting whilst also allowing controlled natural light that bathes the galleries. Thus the ever changing sky is suggested without overwhelming the tranquil galleries and the large scale paintings and sculptures. Temporary galleries appear the same except that all the light is artificial thus meeting global standards for the loan of collections.
The galleries are defined by two axial spines. One set up by the new entrance sequence is parallel to that of the main gallery. The other is the continuation of its cross axis. Both are terminated by superscaled glazed windows allowing the parkland setting to be enjoyed.
This building effortlessly does a great deal of difficult things very well working in parallel to but also with Cass Gilbert's building. The entries by car and foot are delightful. The galleries do the one they can - the soffit - really well and the spatial sequence from old to new, from gallery to park view works delightfully.
CONTRACTOR: TARLTON/PEPPER/KAI JOINT VENTURE
STRUCTURAL ENGINEERS: MAGNUSSON KLEMENCIC ASSOCIATES WITH WILLIAM TAO & ASSOCIATES
COST CONSULTANT: DAVID LANGDON
PROJECT MANAGEMENT: RISE INTERNATIONAL
Landscape Architects: Michel Desvigne Paysagiste with HGA Architects and Engineers
Envelope Consultant: Front Inc.
Acoustic Consultant: Arup
Signage: Kiku Obata & Company
Services Engineer: Arup
Artwork: Andy Goldsworthy
Lighting Consultant: Arup
INTERNAL AREA: 20,000 SQM
Date Of Occupation: 06/2013
PHOTOGRAPHER: Aaron Dougherty