Earlier this month ground was broken on a 53,000 square foot expansion the University of Michigan Museum of Art, designed by Allied Works Architecture of Portland and its head principal, architect Brad Cloepfil.
According to Cloepfil, the key to the $35.4 million project is its respect for the openness of the Ann Arbor central campus. “We did not want to drop a bulky, enclosed object onto that space. So we designed the extension to be as transparent as possible.”
The extension consists of three wings, which are organized in a T shape with two entry courts and a sculpture/event court. The three wings intersect in a dramatic triple-height space. Curtain walls of translucent glass provide views of the activity in the building, while much of the new construction is to be clad in Wisconsin limestone. From any of the gallery wings, it will be possible to see across that core space into the other two wings
Structurally, the extension is built of immense cantilevers, which have only three bearing points. Students going back and forth to campus will pass under those cantilevers and see into the Museum.
This looks like another beautiful public building for Cloepfil and Allied Works, which of course follows commissions for high-profile art museums in St. Louis and New York. If only Portland had, say, an art museum or theater project that Cloepfil could sink his teeth into.