Page N1.1 . 06 February 2002                     
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    Sert's Miró Foundation

    by ArchitectureWeek

    In 1974, Spanish architect Josep Lluis Sert completed the Miró Foundation, a museum in Barcelona dedicated to his friend, modern artist Joan Miró. The light-filled galleries were as varied as the artwork they were designed to display.

    In January, 2002, the American Institute of Architects bestowed on the museum its annual 25-Year Award, with which it honors buildings 25 to 35 years old that "exemplify design of enduring significance." Except for an addition in 1998 by Sert-trained architect Jaime Freixa, the building has maintained its appearance and design intent in immaculate condition.

    The museum, also a center for the study of contemporary art, comprises many spaces of varying sizes and proportions: large galleries for objects that demand distant viewing, high-ceilinged spaces for vertical paintings and hangings, and more intimate galleries for the close-up viewing of smaller paintings and graphics.

    A tall octagonal volume to the right of the entrance houses an auditorium on the ground floor, a gallery for graphic works above, and the library on the top floor. The basement level supports administrative and curatorial spaces.

    As seen from an aerial view, the volumes of the many exhibition spaces gain further definition from the rooftop's rounded monitors, which admit daylight through diffusing glass and reflect it without shadow to the galleries below. In some galleries, diffused light is supplemented with direct daylight.

    Boston Globe architecture critic Robert Campbell, FAIA, describes the building as "the culmination of Sert's career-long effort to marry the logic and rigor of the Modern Movement with the vernacular architecture of the Mediterranean, which he loved and admired for being so responsive to climate and culture."

    In making the award, the AIA jury commented on the museum as a celebration of the human spirit. They wrote: "What is extraordinary in retrospect is the significant use of natural light, scale-giving form, a measure of tactility. This in a time when there was an obsession with structural monumentalism and mono-material buildings that yielded scaleless, dehumanized, oftentimes aggressive environments."

    Sert was born in Barcelona in 1902. He worked with Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret in Paris before he established his own practice in his native city.

    In 1953 Sert became dean of the faculty of the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University and later founded the practice, Sert Jackson and Associates in Cambridge, Massachusetts. While at Harvard, he established the Urban Design Program, the first formal urban planning course in the United States.

    In the Illustrated Encyclopedia of Architects and Architecture, Dennis Sharp writes: "Through his architecture, Sert hoped to achieve a balance of contrasting elements. He worked to effectively and successfully combine people with machines, urban density with support services, and community spaces with private spaces."

    In 1981, Josep Lluis Sert was awarded the AIA Gold Medal. In 1983, he died in Barcelona at age 81. But in the unique and powerful buildings he designed, like the Miró Foundation, the spirit of Sert is still completely alive.



    ArchWeek Image

    The Miró Foundation, by Spanish architect Josep Lluis Sert has just won the AIA's 25-Year Award.
    Photo: Sert Jackson and Associates

    ArchWeek Image

    The museum galleries are filled with light and proportioned to suit the Joan Miró artwork they house.
    Photo: Sert Jackson and Associates

    ArchWeek Image

    The Miró Foundation, by Spanish architect Josep Lluis Sert.
    Photo: Sert Jackson and Associates

    ArchWeek Image

    Entrance to the Miró Foundation.
    Photo: Sert Jackson and Associates

    ArchWeek Image

    The rooftop's rounded monitors admit daylight to the galleries below.
    Photo: Sert Jackson and Associates

    ArchWeek Image

    A museum courtyard, one of many varied spaces designed to display art of diverse sizes and forms.
    Photo: Sert Jackson and Associates

    ArchWeek Image

    A light-filled gallery of the Miró Foundation by Josep Lluis Sert.
    Photo: Sert Jackson and Associates


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