Tel Aviv Museum of Art Amir Building / Preston Scott Cohen

Courtesy of

Located in the center of the city’s cultural complex, the program for the Museum of Art Amir Building posed an extraordinary architectural challenge: to resolve the tension between the tight, idiosyncratic triangular site and the museum’s need for a series of large, neutral rectangular galleries. The solution: subtly twisting geometric surfaces (hyperbolic parabolas) that connect the disparate angles between the galleries and the context while refracting natural light into the deepest recesses of the half buried building.

Tel Aviv Museum of Art Amir Building was the First Prize Winner in the Herta and Paul Amir International Competition. The program includes Galleries of Israeli Art, Architecture and Design, Drawings and Prints, Temporary Exhibitions; Photography Study Center and Archives; Multidisciplinary Auditorium; Seminar and Conference Rooms; Art Library; Restaurant; Administrative Offices; Loading, Unpacking and Storage. Following the break are drawings and construction photographs of this recently completed building.

Architects: Preston Scott Cohen, Inc.
Location: Tel Aviv, Israel
Design: Preston Scott Cohen
Project Architect: Amit Nemlich
Project Assistants: Tobias Nolte, Steven Christensen, Guy Nahum, Gjergj Bakallbashi, Bohsung Kong
Competition Project Team: Scott Cohen, Cameron Wu, Andrew Saunders, Janny Baek
Competition Consultants: Ove Arup and Partners, Caroline Fitzgerald, Tom Dawes, Mark Walsh-Cooke
Cost Estimator: Hanscomb Faithful and Gould
Project Management: CPM Construction Management Ltd.
Structural Engineers: YSS Consulting Engineers Ltd.
HVAC: M. Doron-I. Shahar and Co., Consulting Eng. Ltd.
Lighting: Tillotson Design Associates
Accessibility: Michael Roitman
Acoustics: M.G. Acoustical Consultants Ltd.
General Contractor: Hezkelevitch Engineering
Models: Jonathan Lott, Isamu Kanda
Renderings: Chris Hoxie, Agito Design Studios
Client: Motti Omer, Director and Chief Curator
Project Area: 18, 500 sqm
Project Year: 2010
Photographs: Courtesy of Preston Scott Cohen

Courtesy of Preston Scott Cohen

The building represents an unusual synthesis of two opposing paradigms for the contemporary museum: the museum of neutral white boxes and the museum of architectural spectacle. Individual, rectangular galleries are organized around the “Lightfall”, an eighty-seven foot tall spiraling atrium. The building is composed according to multiple axes that deviate significantly from floor to floor. In essence, it is a series of independent plans and steel structural systems stacked one atop the other, connected by geometric episodes of vertical circulation.

Courtesy of Preston Scott Cohen
Courtesy of Preston Scott Cohen

The new building refers to the original building in such a way that the two can be seen as having a family resemblance. At the same time, it relates to a larger tradition of the new that exists within Israeli architectural culture. The multiple vocabularies of Mendelsohn and Bauhaus Modernism in Tel Aviv are resynthesized in an architectural language that is internationalist and progressive in its cultural orientation.

Courtesy of Preston Scott Cohen
Courtesy of Preston Scott Cohen

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Cite: "Tel Aviv Museum of Art Amir Building / Preston Scott Cohen" 09 Nov 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed 29 May 2015. <>
  • æon

    Some how I find its design inspirited on an spiral.

  • mike

    Absolutely stunning. I think it will look better than the renderings once done, the geometry is so intelligently and elegantly resolved.

  • michael

    New iconic project to Tel Aviv – great space inside.

  • JuiceMajor

    Somehow I feel the interior space is going to give a sense of exploration!

  • K

    Well done! Scott.

  • Real

    Fantastic geometry, un-freaking-believable spatial solutions. Real architecture of imaginative visionaries. (If it would be done by Zaha or Libeskind it would be posted on the cover of every arch. magazine…) tnx for posting AD

    • Sean

      Some would argue Zaha has already ‘done’ this building with the Phaeno Science Centre in Wolfsburg. The geometry bears more than a passing resemblance but in my opinion the way this building sits on the ground is dealt less elegantly than the way that Phaeno’s cones melt into the surrounding landscape. Phaeno was truly a pioneering project in terms of its insitu concrete construction and structural engineering and from what I can see from the pictures this building seems to borrow heavily.

      • Dave

        I disagree that Phaeno meets the ground more elegantly than the Amir building. The space left underneath Phaeno is rather dark and forbidding don’t you think?

        Amir has a much lighter feel, which I think owes to the way the precast panels are allowed to come to ground and also the treatment of the punched windows.

      • jyang

        What about the interior space? There’s nothing at Phaeno like this.