The primary purpose of this building is to hold the work of Clyfford Still, to make room for the voice of a single artist. As a museum it is a particular and intimate experience. Yet the site for the museum resides in a monumental context; at the intersection of prairie and mountains, in the Civic Center, a cultural district inhabited by buildings of grand collective and cultural narrative. All set against an urban neighborhood of parking lots, historic housing and new condominiums.
The new Museum mediates this setting with two distinct acts of architecture. The first act prepares the site by creating a dense grove of deciduous trees – a place of shadow and light, a place of refuge from the endless summer sun. The second act of architecture looks to the earth, the weight and stillness of it. The new building derives its presence from the earth, pressing down into it, being held by it. The Museum is conceived as a solid, a mass of concrete, crushed granite and quartz – a single construction that is opened up by natural light.
The body of the building becomes the source of light for the art. Light is amplified, diffused and obscured by each surface of the building. The exterior façade merges with the shadows of the grove and the stark intensity of the sky. The entrance, beneath the canopy of trees, presses the visitor to the earth.
The darkness of the lobby provides an interval, a place of transition, before rising to the galleries. In the upper level galleries, the visitor moves through a series of luminous rooms where they encounter the work of Clyfford Still. The galleries respond to the art, changing scale and proportion, varying the intensity of light. The museum continually collapses into itself, a concentration of experience that offers an inescapable immediacy with the work of Clyfford Still.