The Jeanne Gang-led studio, united eight previous structures, that have been built for the museum complex since it opened in 1937, with the concrete canopy.
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The 133,000-square-foot (44,333 square metre) structure weaves between the existing buildings, expanding the gallery space and programming space and connecting the rest of the structure.
With an entrance at each end the concrete roof narrows and expands as it passes through the complex, leading the studio to describe the structure as “stem-like” as it narrows between the existing structures and “blossom[s] outward” at the perimeter.
Gang said that the structure was designed not only to connect all the existing structures, but also open the museum up to the surrounding parkland and the community.
“The Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts has been a beloved community anchor since its founding, but over time its main additions had resulted in a building that was isolated from the neighborhood and park,” she said.
“We saw the design as an opportunity to reconnect the building with its surroundings and to reimagine the existing structures in ways that would welcome visitors and all of the vibrant, creative activities going on inside would be supported.”
Made of thin cast-in-place panels arranged at angles, the folded concrete roof looks like “pleats” that add to the plant-like aesthetic that the studio aimed to achieve.
Beyond an aesthetic decision, the form of the concrete roof was designed to accentuate the light entering the structure and to direct the rainwater during Arkansas’ rainy Spring and Autumn months.
One side of the structure was elevated on stilts, and the roof graduates down as it reaches the opposite side, which is a single story and holds the museum’s park-side restaurant.
Both of the entrances are covered by the roof as it cantilevers above the glass entryways.
Passing under the elevated section, visitors enter a courtyard space that a structure that connects the museum with the Cultural Living Room passes above.
The main entrance, clad in stone to reflect the original facades of the 1937 limestone structure, can be accessed through the courtyard, which features a bronze sculpture by British artist Henry Moore.
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