Launch Slideshow

The massing of the Taiyuan Museum of Art speaks to the building’s unique plan, section, and gallery shapes. Courtyards and exterior spaces, worked into the core of the building, create opportunities for views to the outdoors from multiple galleries and other interior spaces. The careful shaping and patterning of the windows serve to choreograph a visitor’s view experience.

Taiyuan Museum of Art

Preston Scott Cohen

Taiyuan Museum of Art

Preston Scott Cohen

  • The massing of the Taiyuan Museum of Art speaks to the building’s unique plan, section, and gallery shapes. Courtyards and exterior spaces, worked into the core of the building, create opportunities for views to the outdoors from multiple galleries and other interior spaces. The careful shaping and patterning of the windows serve to choreograph a visitor’s view experience.

    http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmpD7D2%2Etmp_tcm20-284000.jpg

    The massing of the Taiyuan Museum of Art speaks to the building’s unique plan, section, and gallery shapes. Courtyards and exterior spaces, worked into the core of the building, create opportunities for views to the outdoors from multiple galleries and other interior spaces. The careful shaping and patterning of the windows serve to choreograph a visitor’s view experience.

    600

    Courtesy Preston Scott Cohen

    The massing of the Taiyuan Museum of Art speaks to the building’s unique plan, section, and gallery shapes. Courtyards and exterior spaces, worked into the core of the building, create opportunities for views to the outdoors from multiple galleries and other interior spaces. The careful shaping and patterning of the windows serve to choreograph a visitor’s view experience.

  • This diagram shows the development of the building massing and interior circulation paths. Starting with the concept of a simple knot, the architects morphed the form to create the final building shape and developed sinuous pathways through the interior space based on the interplay of forms.

    http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmpD7D5%2Etmp_tcm20-284021.jpg

    This diagram shows the development of the building massing and interior circulation paths. Starting with the concept of a simple knot, the architects morphed the form to create the final building shape and developed sinuous pathways through the interior space based on the interplay of forms.

    600

    Courtesy Preston Scott Cohen

    This diagram shows the development of the building massing and interior circulation paths. Starting with the concept of a simple knot, the architects morphed the form to create the final building shape and developed sinuous pathways through the interior space based on the interplay of forms.

  • The building has no fewer than five points of entry. This one, recessed into the building under a series of overhangs, signals the architects’ wish for visitors to be enveloped by the space.

    http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmpD7D6%2Etmp_tcm20-284028.jpg

    The building has no fewer than five points of entry. This one, recessed into the building under a series of overhangs, signals the architects’ wish for visitors to be enveloped by the space.

    600

    Courtesy Preston Scott Cohen

    The building has no fewer than five points of entry. This one, recessed into the building under a series of overhangs, signals the architects’ wish for visitors to be enveloped by the space.

  • http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmpD7D1%2Etmp_tcm20-283993.jpg

    600

    Courtesy Preston Scott Cohen

  • The building’s unique form produces irregularly shaped exterior walls. The architects played with the patterning and orientation of the wall panels, none of which—as this flattened wall panel diagram shows—is like the others.

    http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmpD7D9%2Etmp_tcm20-284042.jpg

    The building’s unique form produces irregularly shaped exterior walls. The architects played with the patterning and orientation of the wall panels, none of which—as this flattened wall panel diagram shows—is like the others.

    600

    Courtesy Preston Scott Cohen

    The building’s unique form produces irregularly shaped exterior walls. The architects played with the patterning and orientation of the wall panels, none of which—as this flattened wall panel diagram shows—is like the others.

  • http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/TY-PL00-large_tcm20-285478.jpg

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    Ground Floor Plan

  • This interior rendering shows the convergence of paths that lead to multiple gallery spaces. Light filters in through a central greenhouse. The view into this verdant space gives visitors a sense of openness despite being ensconced within the mass of the building.

    http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmpD7D8%2Etmp_tcm20-284035.jpg

    This interior rendering shows the convergence of paths that lead to multiple gallery spaces. Light filters in through a central greenhouse. The view into this verdant space gives visitors a sense of openness despite being ensconced within the mass of the building.

    600

    Courtesy Preston Scott Cohen

    This interior rendering shows the convergence of paths that lead to multiple gallery spaces. Light filters in through a central greenhouse. The view into this verdant space gives visitors a sense of openness despite being ensconced within the mass of the building.

  • Careful to manage light and sight lines in the museum, the architects created several spaces like this one, which allows views to the outdoors and into other galleries on multiple floors, all in a daylight-flooded, multi-story space.

    http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmpD7D4%2Etmp_tcm20-284014.jpg

    Careful to manage light and sight lines in the museum, the architects created several spaces like this one, which allows views to the outdoors and into other galleries on multiple floors, all in a daylight-flooded, multi-story space.

    600

    Courtesy Preston Scott Cohen

    Careful to manage light and sight lines in the museum, the architects created several spaces like this one, which allows views to the outdoors and into other galleries on multiple floors, all in a daylight-flooded, multi-story space.

What If a Museum Tied Itself in Knots?
Taiyuan Museum of Art / Preston Scott Cohen

Site A riverside site in the cultural district of Taiyuan, in northern China.

Program This government-sponsored art museum has gallery, education, café, and administration spaces.

Solution At the core of the museum’s design is a desire to harness and respond to modern technologies for the control of both artificial and natural light. The building’s curving, interwoven, and overlapping form creates ample opportunities for exploring the relationship of light and shade, and the architects employ multiple strategies—skylights, overhangs, and enclosed spaces—to choreograph the interplay. In so doing, they generate a form that flies in the face of the conventions of museum design and promises to redefine the visitor experience. “I think it’s going to engage a larger audience with architecture,” said juror Stan Allen.

Preston Scott Cohen—principal of his eponymous 10-person Cambridge, Mass., firm—created five wings for the project that are intermingled like the strands of a knot, allowing visitors to either follow a curated path or move seamlessly back and forth between the galleries. The building’s dynamic footprint creates vignettes so that a visitor in one gallery can look into another and into a small exterior green space simultaneously, without detracting from the experience of the art. “It’s trying to create new audiences, and new possibilities for new types of space,” said juror Sarah Dunn. “It has a certain publicness to it that makes it more interesting.”

The knotlike plan drew widespread praise from the judges. “The museum is clearly a wonderful piece of architecture,” Diane Hoskins said. “‘Can it be done?’ is the question. But I think it’s a fantastic project.”

Project Credits

Project Taiyuan Museum of Art, Taiyuan, China
Client Taiyuan City Government
Architect Preston Scott Cohen, Cambridge, Mass.—Preston Scott Cohen (architectural design); Amit Nemlich (project architect); Collin Gardner, Ruan Hao, Kanda Song (project assistants); Yair Keshet (1:500 model)
Model Fabricator Iconic Model (1:100 model)
Architect of Record Architecture Design and Research Institute of Southeast University
Size 435,940 square feet
Cost $29.3 million (200 million RMB)