suckerPUNCH: Describe your project.
PLUS-SUM (Martin SUMMERS): Museums represent our greatest cultural and social aspirations in their mission to collect and disseminate ideas while also striving for symbolic status within global cultural and national/local, shared aspirations. A Museum of Contemporary Art has a particularly elevated status within this shared cultural milieu, because it embodies our aspirations to shape and evolve culture. It collects and defines the edges of our cultural production and at it’s best, reflects the current and future states of our collective evolution.
Within the recent global financial crisis and shifting awareness of our shared responsibility to the environment, the museum design must develop strategies that situate it within this contemporary context. We understand the world as a space of interconnected networks both visible and unseen. These networks work together to define an environment in which forces continuously reinvent context and conditions presenting challenges and opportunities along the way. The design of a Museum of Contemporary Art must therefore respond to the shifting environment and present itself as a partner with the art contained within, to embody our aspirations while shaping and evolving culture.
The Nuevo Museo de Arte Contemporáneo site, located along the Avenida de Mayo axis that runs East to West through the heart of Buenos Aires, is ideally located to take advantage of local and regional infrastructure, cultural and civic events, and extends the Milla Museos along the Puerto Madero to the East and South. The design of the New Museum of Contemporary Art attempts to develop a response that re-enforces these connections and evolves within its context. It provides a new and adaptable public event space to attract a broad spectrum of visitors, and takes advantage of its location by stitching together the civic space with the new insertion of a museum program. The project aspires to enmesh the new functions within the city fabric while engaging visitors to explore and investigate the many layers of culture within a city appointed by UNESCO as a “City of Design.”
The design strategy uses a systemic logic to develop a dual museum, one which houses the majority of galleries and is inwardly focused (nMAC – Nuevo Museo de Arte Contemporáneo) and the other which erodes the edges of the institution both conceptually and formally, to produce a second museum the New Museum of Arts and Culture (nMAC – Nuevo Museo de Artes y cultura), into which the culture of the city can flow and from which the city becomes a new canvas for exploration and interpretation. The institution of the museum, though at the leading edges of contemporary art, is by its very nature slow to respond and react to a rapidly changing environment. The space of cultural production is in constant flux, forming, evolving, flowing, crystalizing, and transforming time and again. This dichotomy captures new opportunities for alternative programming of spaces that cross liminal moments within the culture. While the first museum is the initial instigator of the competition and the initial attraction within the city, the second museum evolves from, into and with the institution over time to adapt to the changing needs of the very culture that will eventually transform the direction of the contemporary museum. They are at times one synthetic network and at other times distinct and autonomous, but at their heart share a progressive lean toward the future.
The eroded spaces allow for after hours programming that reinforce and leverage the site within temporal movements of the city, as a destination in and of itself. This has secondary benefits of symbiotically connecting the institution of the nMAC to the city and the city to the institution. It also allows the institution to develop future alternative programs that can strengthen the funding strategies which will help to stabilize it in rapidly changing global conditions.
sP: What or who influenced this project?
MS: Thom Mayne and the amazing people I had the pleasure of working with at Morphosis Architects. What I learned over 10 years is fundamental to my thinking, design, and technical development. The collection of microscopic images my wife Regina H Summers uses teaching her first year studios at the UK CoD.
sP: What were you reading/listening to/watching while developing this project?
MS: Listening to: Bebel Gilberto, KCRW, Burial, Tosca, Take, Purity Ring, Del, Polica, Jose Gonzalez, Calvin Harris, Jaylib, deadmau5, The Roots, Atmosphere, Harmonic 313. Reading: Always have 5 or 6 books going at a time.
sP: Whose work is currently on your radar?
MS: Preston Scott-Cohen, LTL, Brooks+Scarpa, Ensamble Studio, Olson Kundig.
Additional credits and links:
Thanks to Project Designer, Bart Gillespie, who helped develop the initial concept model and was integral to the overall design and development. Thanks to Raleigh Arrowood and Benjamin Kolder for lending assistance on initial renderings. Special thanks to the University of Kentucky College of Design for support.