Page D2.2 . 05 February 2003                     
ArchitectureWeek - Design Department
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    Ando's New Modern


    One mark of Ando's careful attention to detail is that he recesses all objects affixed to the walls, such as light switches, electrical outlets, and exit signs. This requires that the negative spaces to accommodate the components be accurately sized and perfectly positioned in the wooden forms before the concrete is poured. The Modern exemplifies the fine work that this designer/ craftsman expects and upon which he has built his reputation.

    Touring the Museum

    Ando was selected from six architects who competed to design The Modern. His submission, with four gallery pavilions aligned along a north-south axis, totaled 230,000 square feet (21,000 square meters), with 75,000 square feet (7,000 square meters) of gallery space. The museum as built is 153,000 square feet (14,000 square meters) total, reduced for budgetary reasons, but the staff is retaining the original sketches with the hope that someday a fourth gallery pavilion will be constructed at the north end of the building.

    The museum houses service functions along the east-west axis on which the main entrance is centered. The information desk and "The Modern Shop" bookstore and gift shop are located to the west of the lobby. On the east side of the building are the 250-seat auditorium, full-service kitchen, and restaurant/ cafe with an outdoor dining terrace.

    On the upper level are offices, conference rooms, and a 5,600-square-foot (520-square-meter) education center that includes three classrooms for hands-on art activities and lectures.

    The building is elegantly simple both in design and material. Only six materials are visible: concrete, oak, glass, granite, painted steel, and drywall. The only colors are white and two shades of gray. The simplicity of this palette provides a sense of calm that contrasts with the power expressed by the diversity of spaces and the magnificent art they house.

    The design is based on a well-ordered, modular plan, providing an easily navigated footprint. Pavilions alternate between 24-foot (7.3-meter) and 40-foot (12.2-meter) widths, and all construction measures in two-foot (61-centimeter) increments. The rhythm of contrasting spaces, from narrow to wide, short to tall, enclosed concrete box to exposed glass box, accommodates well the interesting variety of art and imparts a powerful energy to the visitor.

    Themes of Light and Water

    Lighting also differs between the spaces, from diffused light in the narrow galleries to reflected light onto the concrete haunches of the wider galleries. A desire for diffused and reflected natural light was a major influence on the building's design.

    Cantilevered concrete roofs that shade the building's exterior allow natural light into the galleries through continuous linear skylights and clerestories. Five 40-foot- (12-meter-) tall Y-shaped columns offer the main vertical structural support for the roofs. Ando explains that he thinks of the "Y" as symbolizing peace and restfulness amid the unrest in today's society.

    At the east end of each pavilion, where it reaches out into the pool, a glass wall wraps around the concrete box, serving as a place for the visitor to circulate and relax, to glimpse the outside world of nature with the city skyline beyond. This element is reminiscent of the engawa, the narrow enclosed space in a traditional Japanese building that serves as a transition between a room and the exterior environment.

    The playful elliptical shape that is a trademark of Ando's recent work, is incorporated twice in the otherwise rectilinear design. An enclosed concrete elliptical gallery offers a strong dialog for artwork within the building. The "Book with Wings" sculpture that resides in this prominent space is a favorite of Ando's. The ellipse is repeated as an open form containing the glass-enclosed restaurant/ cafe that overlooks the pool.   >>>



    ArchWeek Image

    Front facade of The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas, designed by architect Tadao Ando.
    Photo: Elizabeth Bollinger

    ArchWeek Image

    Gallery pavilions.
    Photo: David Woo

    ArchWeek Image

    Design sketch by the architect.
    Image: Tadao Ando

    ArchWeek Image

    Ground floor plan of The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth.
    Image: Courtesy Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth

    ArchWeek Image

    Upper floor plan of The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth.
    Image: Courtesy Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth

    ArchWeek Image

    Illuminated pavilions at night, as seen across the reflecting pool.
    Photo: David Woo

    ArchWeek Image

    Reflecting pool at The Modern.
    Photo: David Woo

    ArchWeek Image

    View from the dining terrace toward gallery pavilions.
    Photo: Elizabeth Bollinger


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