The $45 million structure, currently under construction in downtown Aspen, is emblematic of post-recession restraint. “Museums have to be very practical,” Ban says. “They can’t just be sculpture.” And in keeping with that ethos, the architect has delivered a simple three-story structure free of tight angles, ovoid shapes, or curving walls.This includes half a dozen galleries, an artist residency area, education spaces, and conservation studios, all told occupying a total 33,000 square feet. The galleries are large and column-free, with flexible partition walls capable of accommodating large-scale sculpture and installation. The rooftop garden functions as entrance hall, public gathering area, and outdoor projection space. “The program was so precise,” Ban says. “There was no space to waste.”A view of the Aspen Art Museum‘s roof trusses. These wavy forms, which do not require metal joints, will support the roof and partially shelter the rooftop garden, where museum attendees can take in public programming (such as film screenings) as well as ski runs in the distance. A view of the Aspen Art Museum‘s roof trusses.These wavy forms, which do not require metal joints, will support the roof and partially shelter the rooftop garden, where museum attendees can take in public programming (such as film screenings) as well as ski runs in the distance.He has designed these as undulating waves of wood held together by screws, thereby eliminating the need for metal joints in the ceiling. When visitors ascend to the roof garden, they will catch a glimpse of these rolling wood waves, a sly way of inserting a decorative structural element into the building—one that doesn’t alter or inhibit the shape or feel of the galleries.“I wanted to make the galleries very practical,” he says. “But I wanted to have a sense of craftsmanship paired with the whitebox.” And of course, there is environmental factor. Museums are notorious energy-guzzlers, with their stringent lighting and climate-control needs.Architect Zachary Moreland, AIA, is serving as the senior project architect on the building for Shigeru Ban Architects America. He says the design attempts to mitigate some of the energy consumption. “It’s an idea we call ‘the thermos,’” he says.“The concept is to put the most demanding spaces at the center of the building and surround them with circulation space. This created a double layer—a wrapper or envelope—around the galleries that helps maintain climate conditions in that space.” Solar panels and strategically placed skylights also help minimize the use of electricity.
Photo: Courtesy by KL&A