Contemporary Art Museum of Castilla and León
by Rachel Grossman
The Contemporary Art Museum of Castilla and León (MUSAC) by Spanish architects Mansilla + Tuñón, located in León, Spain, reflects van der Rohe's philosophy in its minimalist architectural language — and the museum won the 2007 Mies van der Rohe Award, the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture. At the same time, its design works to redefine both the role of a museum with respect to its cultural context and the way people experience museums.
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Van der Rohe saw his designs as a reflection of the culture in which they existed. In this project, Luis Mansilla and Emilio Tuñón took their own approach to past, present, and future. For them the project became an exercise in relativity, where the past shapes the present, the present the past, and the present the future, and the development of culture is about ripples in time, backwards and forwards.
Perhaps the most striking example of their philosophy is the pattern of multicolored glass panels framing the public plaza and entry. Although the overall effect might bring to mind a painting by Mondrian, the beautiful facade composition was actually derived through the enlargement and pixelation of El Halconero (The Falconer), a stained-glass panel in León's 13th-century cathedral. The past is interpreted through the lens of modernity, and presented as if on an enormous computer display.
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