MOCA Cleveland / FOA


Residents are hopeful that Foreign Office Architects (FOA)’s first museum design (and the firm’s first major US building) will help ’s urban-revitalization project move forward.  Farshid Moussavi of the FOA London has designed a geometric volume that dominates the Uptown area’s site, creating a bold icon for the new Museum of Contemporary Art.  Prior to this, the MOCA rented a 23,000 square feet of space on the second floor of the Cleveland Play House complex, but with this 34,000 sqf new home, the museum will be able to showcase a bigger selection and accommodate more visitors.

More images, a cool video, and more about the project after the break.

View from Euclid © FOA

The site’s triangular geometry at the intersection of Euclid Avenue and Mayfield Road inspired Moussavi to respond with a geometry of triangles and trapezoids sloping at various angles, all morphing to create a powerful abstracted form.


Some of the sloping faces tilt toward the street creating reflections of the streetlife and sidewalks while other faces reflect the cloudy skies off their black Rimex stainless steel finish. The materiality of the façade allow the museum to reflect its urban surroundings, changing in appearance with differences in light and weather.

Cross Section Diagram © FOA

The building is designed to showcase a program of internationally emerging art in flexible gallery spaces.  The first level will be constantly activated as its urban living room design allows visitors to relax, grab a bite to eat or shop.  Visitors head to the second level to view the galleries and exhibition workshops, and pass the third floor filled with MOCA administrative offices, classrooms and lecture spaces before reaching the main exhibition gallery on the museum’s last level.

Three of the building’s six facets, one of them clad in transparent glass, will flank a public plaza. This will provide a public gathering place and also serve as MOCA’s “front yard,” and will be the site of seasonal programming. From here, visitors and passersby may look through the transparent facet, site of the Museum entrance, into the ground floor, a space intended for socializing and for civic and cultural events.
In addition to , the design team for the new Museum includes executive architects Westlake Reed Leskosky, headquartered in Cleveland.

More information about the project here.

Cite: Cilento, Karen. "MOCA Cleveland / FOA" 19 Jul 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed 22 May 2015. <>
  • R Goldschmidt

    I like this project, I like the stairs and torsed cube. But i hope that facade skin will not be so shiney and dark. Good wark Foreign Office Architects, and o hope to see more of you project post it in here!

    • Paul O’ Brien

      A bad Casa di Musica

      • R Goldschmidt

        That was my ideea first time, but not even the shape of this building is not the same, not even the facade material, or interiors are not he same, not even windows ondular shape are not the same. And not, for the last, even the location is different and FOA is not OMA. I know the difference between those two buildings. Everybody can cut a cube and say that is inspiration from OMA?

      • Zealand

        A bad Casa d M is a good (short) critique – and eventhough the things R G says are true – there are lots of differences (the FOA building being the lesser of these two on all accounts) – the volume inside a volume concept, circulation and how the building asserts itself in the cityscape are all too similar.

        This is a building that is not exiting in any way, and from the animation it does not look like it will provide usable spaces of high quality – but that will be seen when it gets built.

  • fokt

    Is FOA still breaking up due to divorce?

  • lil jimmy

    Nice building…will be destroyed by the riots in Cleveland in two years when Ohio’s umemployment is at 80%

  • Pusti Lisac

    It looks like the Gehry building down the street took a dump.

  • bill

    I wonder how the top level galleries are conditioned? Also the main stair seems a bit mean and the multipurpose space undercooked — it should be more contained rather than just framing a chunk of the facade.

    Generally the overall form sits well on the site, but I think it could benefit from further articulation or modelling at ground level at least. It’s very abstract and seems scaled to the experience of the driver. Perhaps most visitors will be arriving from adjacent parking facilities so it’s not expected to create much of a public realm.

  • Pusti Lisac

    The building looks monumentally boring in every way. There’s nothing innovative or experimental about it. Coming from the firm that designed the Yokohama ferry terminal that lack of creativity is surprising. But FOA’s work has been sliding steeply downhill recently, probably beacause of marital stress and not lack of talent. I hope Farshid and Alejandro can both get through their tough emotional times and get back to designing beautiful inspiring buildings like Yokohama.

  • Michelle

    I appreciate the simplicity of this design and it’s boldness in approching the street in stark contrast to its environment. The openings created in the geometry provide moments of connection with the site, which speak to the goal of revitalization. I would hope the community would appreciate this simple sculptural gem.

  • Kawy

    Good info over again! Thumbs up:)

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