Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis / Allied Works Architecture

© Helene Binet

The Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis is located in a neighborhood of empty lots, burned out churches and lone townhouses that mark a lost twentieth-century urban ideal. The original grasslands of the region have reemerged in the form of manicured lawns that course between the lone remnants of elegant town homes, creating a new form of urban frontier.

Architects: Allied Works Architecture
Location: St. Louis, Missouri, USA
Project Team: Brad Cloepfil, Kyle Lommen, Chelsea Grassinger, John Weil, Chris Bixby, Nathan Roelofs, Jake Freauff, Andrew Kudless, Keith Alnwick
Collaborator: Bob Kirk, Architectural Concrete Associates
Landscape Architecture: Reed|Hilderbrand
Client: Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis
Photographs: Helene Binet

© Helene Binet

The new architecture for the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis creates a “site” for art and the potential work of artists, work that can take any form or medium. A building of anticipation, the museum is intended to be “acted upon” with art on any plane or surface.

© Helene Binet

It is a catalyst for new experience, an instrument to be played by artists and curators. In creating this new domain for art, the architecture reinforces both the ghost of the ideal city streets and the present landscape.

© Helene Binet

The museum is formed by two opposing walls of concrete, which intertwine and cantilever over this new urban prairie. The lower walls bound the museum and establish the realm for art, observation, and education, creating large interconnecting galleries. These serpentine walls touch the sidewalk and fold inwards, inviting the public to enter and providing views completely through the building from the street intersection outside. The upper walls span above the galleries, intersecting and dividing the volumes below while providing rooms for administration and education. The ceilings float between these upper boundaries at varying heights, modulating the proportion and light of the galleries. The two realms of space and structure converge and diverge, spinning the perception of enclosure and transparency in multiple directions.

© Helene Binet

This building is a simultaneous act of enclosure and invitation, allowing the landscape to flow through the entire site, while tenuously capturing and containing rooms for art. The museum is not a privileged domain, but an open field that concentrates the forces of the city in preparation for later occupation by the artists.


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* Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
Cite: "Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis / Allied Works Architecture" 04 Mar 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 23 May 2015. <>
  • up_today_arch

    modest and sophisticated job… no words… perfect… congr!!!…

    • howard

      This project I really found under whelming. The craft and flow of the spaces compared to it’s neighbor,the Pulitzer Foundation, were found wanting… but it takes a nice photo thou.

  • brent

    Howard is right, The Tadao Ando’s Pulitzer museum is right next door and it’s craft and quality make the Contemporary look half-baked.

    • Altamont

      The Pulitzer was constructed for four times as much (per square foot), for a different organization and for a different purpose. It’s unfair to hold them to the same standard. I think both are valuable for St. Louis, each in their own way.

  • mohamad mozouni

    best website for student Architecture