Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland
by Foreign Office Architects


Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland by Foreign Office Architects

The Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland in Ohio, USA, have unveiled plans for a new museum building by London firm Foreign Office Architects.

Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland by Foreign Office Architects

The four-storey building will have a hexagonal base rising through faceted sides to a square roof.

Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland by Foreign Office Architects

It will be clad in black mirror-finish stainless steel, with tinted glazing to appear as one unified volume during the day.

Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland by Foreign Office Architects

A lobby and meeting place on the ground floor will include a shop, cafe and events space, while part of the triangular site will be used as a public plaza and for seasonal events.

Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland by Foreign Office Architects

Foreign Office Architects collaborated with Cleveland studio Westlake Reed Leskosky for the project.

Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland by Foreign Office Architects

More about Foreign Office Architects on Dezeen:

New Street Gateway for Birmingham, UK (November 2008)
Meydan Shopping Square in Istanbul (December 2007)

Here's some more information from the museum:

Located at the intersection of Euclid Avenue and Mayfield Road, the new MOCA is a flagship project of Cleveland’s emerging Uptown district, a major urban-revitalization project undertaken by Case Western Reserve University; developer MRN, Ltd.; and other institutions in the University Circle neighborhood.

The Museum will serve as a catalyst for creativity and growth in the area—which is home to one of the country’s largest concentrations of cultural, educational, and medical institutions—with greatly expanded educational and public programs, as well as imaginative collaborations with neighboring organizations and cultural partners.

Designed by the internationally acclaimed firm Foreign Office Architects (FOA), London. The nearly 34,000-square-foot, four-story structure is FOA’s first major building in the United States, and its first museum.

FOA has responded ingeniously to the project’s roughly triangular site by designing a building with a hexagonal base that, with imperceptible changes in the shape of each story, rises to a square roof. Viewed from the exterior, the building will appear as an inventive massing of six geometric facets, some flat, others sloping at various angles, all coming together to create a powerful abstract form.

Clad primarily in mirror-finish black Rimex stainless steel, the façade of the new MOCA will reflect its urban surroundings, changing in appearance with differences in light and weather. Window glazing will be tinted to assimilate with the reflective skin so that during the day the building will read as a unified volume, while at night interior lights will create a dynamic pattern on the dark surface.

Three of the building’s six facets, one of them clad in transparent glass, will flank a public plaza. This will provide a public gathering place and also serve as MOCA’s “front yard,” and will be the site of seasonal programming. From here, visitors and passersby may look through the transparent facet, site of the Museum entrance, into the ground floor, a space intended for socializing and for civic and cultural events.

While the building’s dark exterior will offer almost no hint of the interior massing and structure, the experience inside will be notably transparent. Upon entering MOCA, visitors will find themselves in an atrium from which they may visually grasp the dynamic shape and structure of the building as it rises. This space will lead in turn to the Museum’s lobby, café, and shop, and to a double-height multi-purpose room that will house public programs and other events. From here, visitors may take the Museum’s staircase—itself a monumental sculptural object—or an elevator to the upper floors.

While the main exhibition gallery is on the top floor, all four floors of the Museum contain space for either exhibitions or public programs, with the second and third floors combining public and “back of house” functions. The second floor, for example, will house both exhibition workshops and a 1,500-square-foot public gallery, to be used for more intimately scaled exhibitions; consonant with the openness that is characteristic of the building’s interior, visitors approaching this gallery will also be able to glimpse the workshops. The third floor, home to MOCA’s administrative offices, will also include spaces for classes, lectures, and other educational programs.
Positioned within University Circle’s academic life, art school activity, and cultural offerings, MOCA will realize its dynamic potential. It will infuse this new district with energy and life, day and night. The building is designed to showcase a program of internationally emerging art in flexible gallery spaces. The lobby is designed as an urban living room, a place for visitors to mingle, eat, shop, attend events, over the course of hours, or for brief interludes in a busy day.

There will be no admission charge to the first floor space. It is a place to engage at no cost before proceeding on to view our exhibitions for a modest fee. Evenings will be frequently animated by cultural events staged in a multi-purpose room designed for maximum flexibility. The building itself is a learning environment, infused at each level with education offerings that range from low tech to high tech, from contemplative to interactive, from solitary to group encounters. This building is an opportunity to provide a 21st century model of an art museum that anticipates dramatic shifts in how we learn, how we see, and how we socialize.

The new Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland will be forty-four percent larger than the Museum’s current, leased facility, and will demonstrate that a museum expansion need not be large in scale to be ambitious in all respects. Devised for both environmental and fiscal sustainability, the design for the four-story building is at once technically inventive, visually stunning, and highly practical.

In addition to Foreign Office Architects, the design team for the new Museum includes executive architects Westlake Reed Leskosky, headquartered in Cleveland and designers of more than fifty cultural buildings throughout the United States.

DezeenTV: Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland by FOA


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See also:


New Street Gateway by
Foreign Office Architects
Shopping square
by Foreign Office Architects
Nottingham Contemporary
by Caruso St John

Posted on Monday July 19th 2010 at 3:08 pm by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • OPA

    what has happened with FOA?

  • edward

    Neat! Loved the video presentation.

  • hugo

    I though FOA had dissolved and divorced…

  • j

    Graceful outside but ugly on the inside. Does not work as a museum.

  • Splitting up obviously is hurting.

  • Simon

    Reminds me of OMA – Casa de musica!

  • rodger

    the interior public spaces seem detached from each and not at all generous in scale and connectedness. this project is underdeveloped.

  • Weird and utterly unpleasant building, especially the exterior.
    Even fantastic video presentation doesn’t help.
    That’s what I’m talking about here:

    There is no Ars Venustatis – The Art Of Beauty in this project. Sorry even if it’s a big brand as FOA.

  • beigecity

    i just dozed off looking at this… sleek, so modern, so boring

  • bill

    I wonder how the top level galleries are conditioned? Also the main stair seems a bit mean and the multipurpose space undercooked — it should be more contained rather than just framing a chunk of the facade.

    Generally the overall form sits well on the site, but I think it could benefit from further articulation or modelling at ground level at least. It’s very abstract and seems scaled to the experience of the driver. Perhaps most visitors will be arriving from adjacent parking facilities so it’s not expected to create much of a public realm.

  • very safe.

  • j.h

    Was this a warehouse design? I don’t see any intention from the design.

  • The building design seems to work… Circulation space seems more interesting than the gallery spaces though.

  • Richard U.

    This is an unmitigated disaster, a stilted attempt at a stylized skin on top of what appears to be home depot style construction. This is a miniature big box store with a flourish of diluted Liebeskind and a sad attempt at creating an interstitial stair. It is disappointing to see a firm that gave us the Yokohama terminal come up with this introverted heavy mess.

  • @ j.h. It is a Museum of Contemporary Art in Cleveland designed by famous British firm Foreign Architects Office. And still it is just a primitive warehouse.

    If something is not tasty and smells rotten you won’t be able to sell it as a fresh candy, regardless to the brand name behind it…

    You know what I mean, right?

  • Bob

    This will be a great addition for modern architecture in Cleveland, with the dazzling Frank Gerry building just a block away from this site and the Renzo Piano addtion the Cleveland Museum of Art another block over……………..BRAVO CLEVELAND!

  • estimate how much it cost if the building’s luxurious museum.. hehehehe thanks

  • I have to admit with some of the comments regarding it looking like a warehouse design. As a stair builder, nothing is “safer” than building a drywall guardrail along a staircase. Side mounted glass gaurdrail would have complimented the space SO much more yet maintained the lines intended for the design. I’m not bashing the overall architectural qualities, but I hope they reconsider some design elements.

  • Pete

    Great to see Zaha will have two buildings in Ohio!
    One in Cincinnati – and now another in Cleveland…

  • zee

    Where's the natural light in the main gallery??

  • alar

    I can’t understand how such a mediocre project won the competition. Was there nothing better?

  • SP

    No offence, but this reminds me of the Jawa’s ship in Star Wars.