Bauhaus build­ing re- pur­posed

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - SPACES -

“WHAT should a mu­seum look like, a mu­seum in Man­hat­tan .... It is eas­ier to say first what it should not look like,” said ar­chi­tect Mar­cel Breuer in 1963. It is his name that graces the new lo­ca­tion of the Metropoli­tan Mu­seum of Art in New York, set to open to the pub­lic on March 18. “It should not look like a busi­ness or of­fice build­ing, nor should it look like a place of light en­ter­tain­ment,” he went on in his speech back then. “Its form and its ma­te­rial should have iden­tity and weight in the neigh­bour­hood of 50- storey sky­scrapers, of mile- long bridges, in the midst of the dy­namic jun­gle of our colour­ful city. It should be an in­de­pen­dent and self- re­ly­ing unit, ex­posed to his­tory, and at the same time it should trans­form the vi­tal­ity of the street into the sin­cer­ity and pro­fun­dity of art.”

That year, the Hun­gar­ian- born Bauhaus ar­chi­tect ( 1902- 1981) was com­mis­sioned to build a mu­seum in New York, the Whit­ney Mu­seum of Amer­i­can Art, at a time when mon­u­ments to con­sumerism, tele­vi­sion and com­merce con­structed of glass and steel were spring­ing up across the city. Ac­claimed for his work with stone and con­crete, he re­sisted the trends of the time and con­ceived the build­ing as a solid, per­ma­nent sanc­tu­ary to house art.

With a gran­ite fa­cade and asym­met­ri­cal win­dows, the street level of the build­ing, con­structed be­tween 1963 and 1966, was de­signed to be wide open as Breuer sought to bring vis­i­tors away from the hus­tle of the city and into an in­ti­mate en­gage­ment with art. His de­sign in­cluded a sunken gar­den, and The Whit­ney Mu­seum had also re­quested flex­i­ble ex­hi­bi­tion spa­ces of large, open gal­leries with mov­able wall pan­els and flex­i­ble light­ing that could be re­ar­ranged for each new ex­hi­bi­tion.

Now the build­ing is tak­ing on a new life as the Met Breuer, a new lo­ca­tion of The Metropoli­tan Mu­seum of Art in Man­hat­tan. Lo­cated on Madi­son Av­enue and 75th Street, the space will be re- ded­i­cated to mod­ern and con­tem­po­rary art.

Ren­o­vated and re­stored for the Met Breuer with the ar­chi­tect’s orig­i­nal vi­sion in mind, the work was ex­e­cuted un­der the guid­ance of Beyer Blinder Bell Ar­chi­tects and Plan­ners LLC to main­tain the unique char­ac­ter of the struc­ture’s at­tributes, such as the con­crete walls, stone floors and bronze fix­tures.

Spe­cial con­sid­er­a­tion was given to preserving the aes­thetic of weath­ered ar­eas to re­spect the his­tory of the iconic build­ing while the in­fra­struc­ture sys­tems have been up­graded with The Whit­ney’s par­tic­i­pa­tion. In ad­di­tion, the Met has com­mis­sioned land­scape ar­chi­tect Gun­ther Vogt to ac­ti­vate the sunken gar­den with quak­ing aspen trees planted along the perime­ter.

The re­stored struc­ture opens on March 18 with the in­au­gu­ral ex­hi­bi­tion Un­fin­ished Thoughts Left Vis­i­ble, fea­tur­ing over 190 art works from the Re­nais­sance to the present. For more in­for­ma­tion on the new Met Breuer, go to met­mu­seum. org/ visit/ met­breuer.

The Met Breuer Mu­seum is set to open on March 18 in this iconic Bauhaus new york build­ing.

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