Engaging. Sophisticated. Pragmatic. Timeless. These qualities are essential to the architectural concept for the new Scottsdale Museum of the West designed by Jones Studio. Coupled with an imaginative and stimulating exhibit experience, guests will find a building that embodies the idea of the Old West meeting the New West.
To create a memorable, signature design for the New West, Jones Studio first looked to the Old West for inspiration. Here, a straw cowboy hat becomes a visual metaphor for a building shaded from the Arizona sun. Studying ancient Native-American cliff dwellings, and learning from their wisdom and mindful use of materials. They were influenced by the giant, perfectly stacked wood piles typical of saw mills found in the old west and also by images of buildings in Old West towns, as well as images of ranches with beautiful old barns, where streaming sunlight might illuminate a shady interior.
Jones Studio was guided by the essential qualities of these places, and went searching for innovative materials that would help them realize a New West building that has the same zest and confidence as these Old West examples. After researching they found a material that is the embodiment of the Old West transforming into the New. A composite board of recycled plastic and saw dust, with an uncanny ability to bend, will softly weather and provide the museum with a tough, durable, maintenance-free skin for a lifetime. As the skin wraps around the building, it pushes out and opens up, allowing sunlight to penetrate spaces that are not light sensitive. This board also has the visual characteristics of the old barn and western town. It is both familiar and new at the same time – the Old West meeting the New West.
The building is designed to be approached from many directions. Emphasis is placed on a “human scale” ground plane experience that is both welcoming and engaging to the downtown visitor. Arriving from the east, the guest is greeted by a large covered “front porch” and an outdoor gathering space adjacent to the interior lobby. As the front entry recedes from the street, it offers respect to an existing visual connection through the site to the adjacent transit station and its dynamic clock tower. If arriving from the existing underground parking garage to the west, the guest ascends an existing stair shaded by the new building. Emerging from below, they are greeted by a vibrant plaza activated by a new museum cafe and retail shop. The west entry to the museum is at the opposite end of the plaza.
The covered, 3-story south facing exterior atrium will welcome every guest. Shade and shadow characterize this space. Guests will experience the calming sound of moving water. Looking up, they’ll see the exciting galleries above.
The design team plans on setting an architectural precedent for environmental responsibility in a New West building. In the Old West, the sun was used to grow crops. In the New, we “grow” electric power. At the Scottsdale Museum of the West, a wonderful roof terrace/sculpture patio will be shaded by a canopy of energy producing photovoltaic panels. In the Old West, water was a precious commodity – conserved and respected. This New West building will have the same attitude toward water. The entire roof will channel rain and equipment condensate to an underground storage tank, creating a small, soothing entry fountain, and irrigating the surrounding landscape.
Architect: Jones Studio
Location: Scottsdale, Arizona
Design Team: Eddie Jones (Lead Designer), Neal Jones (Principal-In-Charge), Brian Farling, Melissa Farling, Aaron Forbes
Consultants: BRC Imagination Arts, Museum Exhibit Design Consultants
Project Area: 48,000 SqFt
Project Year: 2008