Studio Gang’s Redesigned Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts in Little Rock, US, is Set to Open to the Public

Studio Gang’s Redesigned Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts in Little Rock, US, is Set to Open to the Public

The newly transformed Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts in Little Rock, US, is ready to open to the public on April 22, 2023. Designed by architecture practice Studio Gang in collaboration with Polk Stanley Wilcox and landscape architecture and urban design practice SCAPE, The Museum’s new architectural identity aims to signify its role as a leading arts institution in the region. One of the Museum’s most recognizable features, the folded plate concrete roof, is now complete. The new roofline spans the length of the building, connecting the new construction and the renovated spaces to create a coherent architectural character for the cultural institution.

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For Studio Gang, the design process started with the study of the original 1937 building and its eight additions. The studio’s approach was based on the desire to create unity and coherence between the various structures, building systems, and programs while emphasizing the significant historical elements. This was achieved by creating a new central spine that runs the length of the museum and connects the programming spaces and the surrounding landscape. An added advantage is that this new element allows natural light to enter the building, and it extends sightlines, thus creating new opportunities for engagement and discovery for the museum’s visitors. The pleated roof of this new addition also gives the museum a distinctive and recognizable image.

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North View. Image © Tim Hursley

From the early stages of the project, Studio Gang has a vision for “a museum in a park”, recognizing that clarified circulation throughout the building and into the park would reinvigorate the museum and allow it to flourish. By the 2010s, some of the additions to the original building, necessary for the museum’s growing collection, were closing off the institution from the neighborhood and the nearby park. The designers understood that these relationships were important and chose to re-establish them. The new building is situated within 11 acres of public landscape designed by SCAPE and inspired by the native ecologies of Arkansas.

Following their ethos to “start with what’s there,” Studio Gang’s design for the new Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts excavates the historic, Art Deco façade of the original museum to make it the new north entrance. Originally designed by architect H. Ray Burks, the 1937 building featured a limestone façade designed by Little Rock artist Benjamin D. Brantley and features two carved relief figures, Painting and Sculpture personified. The new building reveals the façade to the outside for the first time since 1982. Alongside new construction, Studio Gang’s design reuses and adapts various previous structures and materials, while renovating existing spaces to support the Museum’s programming aspirations.

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Park view. Image © Tim Hursley

What makes the work of Studio Gang distinct is the continually renewed search for the logic of each building, the process of unraveling the contingent circumstances of each project, delving into them for inspiration. - architect Mohsen Mostafavi, author of Studio Gang: Architecture (Phaidon, 2020)

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View from the North. Image Courtesy of Studio Gang and SCAPE

Founded and led by Jeanne Gang, Studio Gang is an architecture and urban design practice headquartered in Chicago, with offices in New York, San Francisco, and Paris. Studio Gang is currently designing cultural and civic projects across the Americas, including an expansion to the American Museum of Natural History in New York, a new Center in Paris for the University of Chicago, a new United States Embassy in Brasilia, and the Global Terminal at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago.

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Entrance from the South. Image Courtesy of Studio Gang and SCAPE

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Cite: Maria-Cristina Florian. "Studio Gang’s Redesigned Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts in Little Rock, US, is Set to Open to the Public" 16 Sep 2022. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/989098/studio-gangs-redesigned-arkansas-museum-of-fine-arts-in-little-rock-us-is-set-to-open-to-the-public> ISSN 0719-8884

Aerial View. Image © Tim Hursley

褶皱屋顶,Studio Gang ‘阿肯色艺术博物馆’即将开放

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