Cities get identified by their landmarks. The centre of Davenport, suffers from many of the problems endemic to a number of American cities. Over the years the area has witnessed the departure of much of its residential and business community, leaving downtown Davenport with little of the vibrancy normally associated with urban life.
The implementation of this new home for the Figge Art Museum, formerly the Davenport Museum of Art, in downtown Davenport, has been a major catalyst in the urban revitalization of a historic city, which is located on the banks of the Mississippi River on Iowa’s eastern border and is the largest of the Quad Cities, that also comprises Bettendorf, Iowa, and Rock Island and Moline, Illinois.
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In order to create an emblematic building for the city, David Chipperfield conceived the Figge Art Museum as a monolithic glass structure that would powerfully yet simply landmark Davenport’s redeveloping waterfront. Its architecture was based around the idea of simple volumetric block enveloped by opaque, transparent, and translucent surfaces. These glass surfaces are fritted with horizontal banding that varies in density.
In urban terms, the design looks to support the old city grid by filling one half of a previously empty city block. Yet in maintaining a strong and singular outline, the design of the Museum reveals itself as more varied than its urban footprint would suggest – different frontages reflect differing site conditions and define each of the building’s facades with distinct approaches: city plaza, street entrance, and riverside terrace. The plaza will provide for a sculpture garden and public gathering space, connecting the Figge visually with other cultural attractions in the downtown.
Inside the building, the program for its design and layout is based largely on the existing Davenport Museum of Art, with its rich mix of exhibition and non-exhibition functions. However, at three times the size of the former facility, the new building allows for generous exhibition space for the permanent collection; multi-level special exhibition galleries; and the inclusion of educational spaces, including drawing and study studios, lecture and library facilities.
Public spaces include a restaurant, museum store, a generous lobby space and a multi-level Winter Garden that provides spectacular views of the Mississippi River. The design encourages the overlap of these functions and for a public route through the building, giving visitors an awareness of the activities of the Figge Art Museum and for students and artists to have an immediate relationship with the collection of paintings and objects that it houses.
Project Details and Credits:
Location: Davenport, Iowa, USA
Completion Date: 2005
Gross Floor Area: 10,000 m2
Client: Davenport Museum of Art
Design Architect: David Chipperfield Architects: Johannes Baumstark, Franz Borho, Jochen Glemser, Isabelle Heide, Victoria Jessen-Pike, Reto Liechti, Laurent Masmonteil, Viola Simoncioni, Jennifer Singer, Hau Ming Tse, Patrick Überbacher, Reiko Yamasaki
Associate Architect: Herbert Lewis Kruse Blunck Architecture: Kirk Blunck, Cheung Chan, Doug Frey, Jill Goedken, Zach Heitzman, Tom Hilton, Cal Lewis, Carey Nagle, Mark Schmidt, Evan Shaw, Jonathan Sloan, Greg Smith, Tom Trapp, Jeff Wagner
Structural Engineer: Jane Wernick Associates: James Packer, Jane Wernick
Structural Engineer of Record: Charles A. Saul Engineering: John Paul Goedken, Charles Saul
Services Engineer: Arup: Archie Campbell, Hilary Caton, Ned Crowe, Matthew David, Tim Hanson, Rachel Hughes, Lidia Johnson, Florence Lam, Chris McHale, Raj Pajel, David Prichard, Andrew Sedgwick, Mike Summer, Mark Thomas, Nigel Tonks, Mary Voutsina, Cress Wakefield
Lighting Engineer: Arup: Andy Sedgwick, Florence Lam
General Contractor: Russell/Pepper Joint Venture
Civil Engineer: Missman Stanley & Associates
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