THE TEL AVIV MUSEUM OF ART celebrates november 2 opening of its new international landmark, THE HERTA AND PAUL AMIR BUILDING
New building designed by preston scott cohen is a striking contribution to tel aviv’s architecture and a major addition to israel’s principal museum of modern and contemporary art
TEL AVIV, Israel, an international city renowned for its vibrant young culture and tradition of modern architecture, and a museum known as the very heart of its nation’s thriving arts community, today opened the doors of a visionary new building that may alter the future of museum architecture and lift its country to new prominence in the world of contemporary art.
Designed by Preston Scott Cohen, the 195,000-square-foot building adds an unprecedented work of contemporary architecture to the campus of the Museum—Israel’s principal institution of modern and contemporary art—and provides a new international landmark at the center of Israel’s cultural capital.
Ron Huldai, Mayor of the Municipality of Tel Aviv, stated, “We celebrate the opening of the Herta and Paul Amir Building as a confirmation that Tel Aviv is today a global city and will remain one far into the future. Over the past decade, we have invested $250 million in our cultural and historical institutions in support of Tel Aviv’s leading international role. Today, with representatives of the art world gathered here for the inauguration, the Herta and Paul Amir Building stands as the symbol of all we have accomplished and all we aspire to achieve.”
The Design of the Herta and Paul Amir Building
The freestanding concrete-and-glass Herta and Paul Amir Building establishes a dialogue with the existing structures of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art and with the renowned modern architecture of Tel Aviv, with its traditions of Mendelsohn, the Bauhaus and the White City.
On the inside, the Amir Building reveals that it is built around a spiraling, top-lit, 87-foot-high atrium known as the Lightfall, whose subtly twisting surfaces curve and veer up and down through the structure. There are five levels to the building—two above grade and three below—which twist from floor to floor to accommodate large, rectangular galleries within the compact, irregular site. The stairs and ramped promenades of the Lightfall serve as the surprising, continually unfolding vertical circulation through these floors, connecting the disparate angles of the galleries and allowing natural light to refract into the deepest recesses of the half-buried building.
“I am incredibly proud to have had the opportunity to work with the Tel Aviv Museum of Art on the Amir Building,” Preston Scott Cohen stated. “The Museum’s program set the challenge of providing several floors of large, neutral, rectangular galleries within a tight, idiosyncratic, triangular site. The solution we proposed was to ‘square the triangle’ by constructing the levels on different axes, which deviate significantly from floor to floor and are unified by the Lightfall. This decision enabled us to combine two seemingly irreconcilable paradigms of the contemporary art museum: the museum of neutral white boxes, which provides optimal, flexible space for the exhibition of art, and the museum of spectacle, which moves visitors and offers a remarkable social experience. In this way, the Amir Building’s synthesis of radical and conventional geometries produces a new type of museum experience, one that is as rooted in the Baroque as it is in the Modern.”
The Amir Building doubles the exhibition space of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, giving it 40,900 square feet of new galleries, as well as 10,000 square feet for its library. Among other facilities, the Amir Building also provides a new 7,000-square-foot auditorium, allowing the institution to expand the busy schedule of film screenings, music performances, readings, lectures and discussion programs that make the Tel Aviv Museum of Art an indispensable center of activity for the city’s artistic and cultural community.
Paul Amir, the Los Angeles-based real-estate developer and philanthropist who with his wife Herta provided the naming gift for the Museum’s new building, stated, “We feel privileged to have been able to advance the work of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, an institution that is truly at the heart of Israel’s creative community. With this exceptional building by Preston Scott Cohen, and with the ability to showcase the work of Israel’s artists as never before, the Museum now has the potential to step up to a prominent new role on the international scene, to the benefit of everyone.”
Article by Marco Rinaldi