Architect: John Ronan Architects Location: 111 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, USA Project Team: John Ronan AIA, Lead Designer; Marcin Szef, Tom Lee Graphic Designer: Studio Blue General contractor: Art Institute of Chicago Project Area: 6600 sqf Project Year: 2011 Photographs: Steve Hall/Hedrich Blessing
The firm was chosen by curators in the Architecture and Design department of the Art Institute of Chicago to design of the exhibition space for a retrospective exhibition on the work of Chicago architect Bertrand Goldberg. The design of the space is intended to reference the work of the subject architect in its form and geometry—later works are displayed in a space with canted walls with softly-curved corners reflecting Goldberg’s later fascination with curvilinear geometries; earlier works are displayed in a more straightforward, rectilinear space reflective of the more orthodox modernism of Goldberg’s early career.
Upon entering the exhibition space, visitors first encounter a curved wall of board-formed glass fiber-reinforced concrete that identifies the exhibition with Goldberg, employing one of the architect’s signature materials. From there, the work unfolds in reverse chronology, starting with more familiar work, continuing on to the earlier work before coming back to the better-known material. Mirrored portals in the walls separating the pie-shaped pods that define the different sections of the exhibition give glimpses to the upcoming projects and subtly suggest to the exhibition-goer to draw relationships between the different projects featured in the exhibition. As the visitor moves through the space, these portals frame important works that introduce each new area of the exhibition. Alternating white and charcoal-colored paint on the walls of the gallery spaces serve to give a rhythm and structure to the spatial sequence.