With ever-expanding traveling exhibitions attracting over 35,000 yearly visitors from around the globe, the Aspen Art Museum (AAM) has outgrown their cozy 9,000 square foot facility that has been their home since the museum was established in 1979. Japanese architect Shigeru Ban has been commissioned to design the new museum, being the first museum he has constructed in the U.S.
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Shigeru Ban strives for a “unified relationship between the structure and its surroundings.” Transparency and natural light are the two main goals the guide the museums design. This past summer, the AAM purchased the land for the new 30,000 square foot building near the historic mountain town’s center. The program will include a 12,500 square foot exhibition space, an exterior roof deck sculpture garden, an education classroom, bookstore, museum shop, café, office space and art storage.
Five key design elements are highlighted within the wood and glass structure. The first being a grand staircase that gives visitors direct access to the roof deck sculpture garden, located on the third level. The grand staircase eases the transition from the outdoors to the formal gallery, while providing unconventional exhibition space throughout.
The second key design element highlighted is the “moving room”, also known as the glass reception elevator. The 8 by 12 foot, transparent elevator animates the northeast corner of the building on the corner of South Spring Street and Hyman Avenue.
A woven exterior wooden screen is the third element that seems to attract the most attention. As critics are skeptical that the screen will be compatible with the harsh weather conditions of Aspen, Colorado, the architect emphasizes the screens ability to provide a passerby with views of the interior structure and gallery spaces.
The fourth element emulates the exterior screen and covers 50 percent of the top floor. This being a woven roof structure that provides shaded views of the Aspens and sculpture garden.
“Walkable” skylights make up the fifth and final element highlighted by the AAM, flooding the second floor main gallery with natural light.
The AAM is currently soliciting donations as the project is supported completely through private funding. So far, $35,000,000 of the $50,000,000 campaign goal has been collected.