my design work in and out of architecture

Arch 202, Charrette 03 – Midterm

Acumulação Museum, Midterm Proposal

The term project for this quarter was to design a museum that would “test the current phenomena of museums as ‘events’, a trend which both drives and limits the possibilities for museum architecture to function as a lens between visitors and artifacts.” The museum would be dedicated to housing the private collection of the late opera singer, Lygia Louca Acumulação. An avid collector, she amassed hundreds of artifacts while traveling the world, but our museum was to focus specifically on her collection of Moghul miniature painting, Mimbres pottery, and pre-Colombian textiles. Because of the fragile nature of these objects, preservation facilities were to be included within the project as well as special storage spaces. Also included within the required program were various office spaces, a bookstore, a cafe, outdoor space, and various exhibition spaces. It was a very dense program. Essentially, we were to fit 20,000 sq. ft. of program onto a 5,000 sq. ft. lot in downtown Santa Ana. Read the details of the problem as well information on the collector and collection and the detailed program requirements here.

The site was a 50’x100′ lot of land in downtown Santa Ana, CA upon which the city allowed up to a 45′ height limit. I put a small packet together to get a better idea of the site. Check that out here.

Now, admittedly, the types of items that would be on display at this museum (Moghul paintings, pre-Columbian textiles, and mimbres pottery) aren’t the type of things that would draw throngs of people to this new museum. My strategy for this project, then, was to create an inviting structure that could draw people in to experience and learn about the artifacts.

Initially, I wanted to open up the whole museum; make everything transparent. The fragile nature of the artifacts to be displayed, however, made this impossible. Instead, I chose to highlight certain aspects of the program and use those as a transition that would draw pedestrian traffic. The stairs, a principal aspect of the circulation because to fit everything onto the small lot size meant the museum would be four stories tall, were move to the front of the museum and were accentuated as a major part of the program. This importance is visible to the outside viewer because this became one of the only areas that was openly visible to the exterior: as the patrons within circulated and viewed the exhibit, they in turn became the exhibit for those on the street. The site line of the glazing is continued to the roof where a roof deck is also visible to people walking by. These strategies are meant to draw people into the museum.

Once in the museum, I employed a few strategies to get the people moving up through all the exhibit spaces. First off, what you would see is a sovereign mass, a sort of building within the building. The purpose of this was two-fold. On the one hand, it acts as an anchor in the otherwise open program around which the patron must navigate to arrive at the next level. More importantly, though, this would be where all the restoration work would be occuring. The restoration work would be visible to the patrons in the museum, but seperated physically and only accessible to employees through the lower level. Restoration of the artifacts becomes an exhibit in itself, giving the artifacts context by displaying the amount of work that goes into restoring and maintianing the delicate pieces.

On the top level of this “building within a building” is the museum cafe, above which is the roof deck. These spaces are placed on top as a sort of congregation space concluding the patrons voyage through the museum. As a final touch, the floor of the roof courtyard is slatted with occasional skylights. Because most other areas of the museum must have controlled lighting, these skylights would light up the top level a little bit brighter than the rest, and this would be visible from all floors. Like moths to a flame, the idea is that people would naturally be attracted to upper level because of this, and this in turn would draw them through the exhibit levels on their way up.

midterm presentation panelsThese are the panels I presented for midterm review. Click on either to view a larger PDF.

museum cafeA view of the would be cafe and access to the slatted roof deck.

museum perspectiveHere is a view of the proposed roof deck. The slats on the floor would allow light into the upper levels of the museum.