the world's most visited architecture website

Problems for Piano's Modern Wing

  • 01
  • by
  • Articles

A $10 million lawsuit has been filed against Arup for flaws in Renzo Piano’s addition to the Art Institute of Chicago’s Modern Wing (check out our previous coverage of the museum). The museum claims that certain documents made by Arup were flawed and have resulted in serious problems for the museum. Although most of the problems were addressed before the 264,000 sqf wing opened in 2009, the Institute still states that errors have led to condensation in the vestibule and incorrectly sized temperature and humidity controls. Determined to maintain their highly esteemed reputation as a world-class museum, the Art Institute has clarified that although the building has experienced problems, no artwork was ever in jeopardy of being harmed.

More about the lawsuit after the break.

Further problems include cracking sub-floors which delayed the installation of the finished wood floors for the galleries, and air-handling systems that were not capable of delivering air at the standard necessary for displaying art. And, Piano’s most distinctive feature – the “flying carpet” roof – has been modified as, according to the museum, faulty engineering forced the museum to seal openings in some of the blades so the roof would not produce a whistle sound.

The issue brings to light a difficult issue of where the blame lies, especially in a building of this size. Perhaps Arup has fallen short, or perhaps the blame lies with the construction, or maybe even in the design. It is difficult to say, yet interestingly enough, the lawsuit is only directed at Arup.   No matter who is to blame, hopefully the problems are resolved quickly and accurately so all can enjoy this new museum.

Sources: The Architect’s Newspaper and The Chicago Tribune

Cite:Karen Cilento. "Problems for Piano's Modern Wing " 01 Oct 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed . <>