North Carolina Museum of Art; Raleigh, North Carolina
 by Thomas Phifer and Partners Print
Friday, 04 February 2011 09:35

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The museum is, in essence, a single 65,000-square-foot room, separated by partial height walls into galleries, none a discrete, fully enclosed room.  Overhead, hundreds of elliptical occuli bathe the interior in even, full-spectrum daylight, modulated to filter out damaging rays. In this gently luminous setting, the artwork takes on heightened vividness.  Outside, matte anodized aluminum panels that enclose the building continue the discourse with the landscape.  From oblique vantage points on the exterior, underlying strips of polished stainless steel capture unexpected and scintillating reflections.

 The project The project is recipient of a 2011 American Institute of Architects (AIA) Honor Award for Architecture.
North-Carolina-Museum-Art_ScottFrancesa© Scott FrancesInside the North Carolina Museum of Art, the light of day and the lush surrounding hills have a presence unusual in institutional galleries for art. Overhead, hundreds of elliptical occuli, in long, parallel, coffered vaults bathe the museum’s interior in even, full-spectrum daylight, modulated in intensity by layered materials that filter out damaging rays. In the gently luminous setting, against pure white walls, the artwork takes on heightened immediacy and vividness.
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Edited by Lynda Waggoner


A departure from traditional hierarchies, the museum, in some respects, is a single 65,000-square-foot room. Within this spatial continuum, a succession of wall planes, many freestanding without reaching the ceiling, delineate separate galleries. But none of the spaces forms a discrete, fully enclosed room. Instead, a corner or two of each gallery remains open, inviting flow from one area to the next.
North-Carolina-Museum-Art_IwanBaan© Iwan BaanOutside the building skin—a rain screen of pale, matte anodized-aluminum panels, sheaths the museum and carries on the discourse with the landscape. These aluminum sheets, arrayed like great vertical pleats or shingles, softly pick up surrounding colors and movement. From oblique vantage points, the underlying strips of mirror-polished stainless steel that angle the panels off the facade capture unexpected, fragmented,and scintillating reflections.
The expansion galleries at the North Carolina Museum of Art will provide a distinct visitor experience in a state-of-the-art "energy smart" building.

Naturally illuminating the interior environment provides color rendering and light levels ideal for viewing art, while efficient temperature and air quality controls, lighting and envelope systems provide the ideal interior environment for preserving North Carolina’s priceless collection of art.
AIA's Honor Award Jury comments:
Worthy of recognition for the precision and technology that went into the design of the ceiling and light well – the way daylight is brought into this building is ingenious.
From a distance, the building appears as a normal industrial building fitting into its context – upon approach it is an amazingly precise and elegant box.
Very unique for a museum in that it contributes to the overall master plan for this part of the city.

Project Credits:
Architect: Thomas Phifer and Partners
Local Architect: Pearce Brinkley Cease + Lee
Structural Engineer: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP
Mechanical Engineer: AltieriSeborWieber
Landscape Architect: Lappas + Havener
Lighting Design: Fisher Marantz Stone
Natural Lighting Design: Arup, London and New York
Environmental Design: Artifex ED, Inc
Civil Engineering: Kimley-Horn Associates
Acoustics: Creative Acoustics
General Contractor: Balfour Beatty; Barnhill
Photographers: © Scott Frances, © Iwan Baan

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 24 May 2011 12:18