Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
by Leigh Christy
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri, recently underwent a complete overhaul — and the glowing lenses of the new Bloch Building, designed by Steven Holl Architects, are just the tip of the iceberg.
Over a decade ago, feeling that the museum had reached a development plateau, the museum leadership began working with Washington, D.C.-based Nancy L. Pressly and Associates to assess the institution's future. The resulting strategic plan outlined a clear vision of expanded opportunities for museum interaction with the community and with the art, and part of that vision was expansion.
"With input from staff and community members, we developed a qualitative outline of expectations and goals for all aspects of the museum," recalls Dana Knapp, director of planning for the museum. "The quantitative architectural program followed, mapped out to support the strategic plan and be a means to an end. But then we saw an opportunity for the 'means' to be exciting as well."
Enter Steven Holl Architects (SHA), the standout winner of the juried competition for a 165,000-square-foot (15,300-square-meter) museum addition, a new 450-car parking garage, and a rethought sculpture park. Local firm Berkebile Nelson Immenschuh McDowell Architects (BNIM) was then carefully chosen by the museum and SHA in a separate competition to be both the architect of record for the new Bloch Building and the design architect for the renovation of the original Nelson-Atkins Building.
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