Herta and Paul Amir Building at the Tel Aviv
Museum of Art by Preston Scott Cohen


Herta and Paul Amir Building at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art by Preston Scott Cohen

Dezeen in Israel: here are some images of the recently opened new wing at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, which has a dramatically faceted atrium piercing its centre.

Herta and Paul Amir Building of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art by Preston Scott Cohen

Designed by American architect Preston Scott Cohen, the Herta and Paul Amir Building has a spiralling plan with two storeys above ground and three underground floors.

Herta and Paul Amir Building of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art by Preston Scott Cohen

Galleries overlook the 26-metre-high atrium through long windows that slice through its angled walls.

Herta and Paul Amir Building of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art by Preston Scott Cohen

Although the building has a triangular plan, these exhibition galleries are rectangular and display art, design, architecture and photography.

Herta and Paul Amir Building of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art by Preston Scott Cohen

Walls fold around the entrances to these rooms and appear on approach to be wafer-thin.

Herta and Paul Amir Building of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art by Preston Scott Cohen

The museum has a tessellated concrete exterior where windows match the shapes of the triangular and rectangular panels.

Herta and Paul Amir Building of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art by Preston Scott Cohen

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Herta and Paul Amir Building of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art by Preston Scott Cohen

Photography is by Amit Geron.

Herta and Paul Amir Building of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art by Preston Scott Cohen

Here's some more information from the museum:

Herta and Paul Amir Building
Tel Aviv Museum of Art

The design for the Amir Building arises directly from the challenge of providing several floors of large, neutral, rectangular galleries within a tight, idiosyncratic, triangular site. The solution is to “square the triangle” by constructing the levels on different axes, which deviate significantly from floor to floor. In essence, the building’s levels—two above grade and three below—are structurally independent plans stacked one on top of the other.

These levels are unified by the “Lightfall”: an 87-foot-high, spiraling, top-lit atrium, whose form is defined by subtly twisting surfaces that curve and veer up and down through the building. The complex geometry of the Lightfall’s surfaces (hyperbolic parabolas) connect the disparate angles of the galleries; the stairs and ramped promenades along them serve as the surprising, continually unfolding vertical circulation system; while the natural light from above is refracted into the deepest recesses of the half-buried building. Cantilevers accommodate the discrepancies between plans and provide overhangs at the perimeter.

In this way, the Amir Building combines two seemingly irreconcilable paradigms of the contemporary art museum: the museum of neutral white boxes, which provides optimal, flexible space for the exhibition of art, and the museum of spectacle, which moves visitors and offers a remarkable social experience. The Amir Building’s synthesis of radical and conventional geometries produces a new type of museum experience, one that is as rooted in the baroque as it is in the Modern.

Conceptually, the Amir Building is related to the Museum’s Brutalist main building (completed 1971; Dan Eytan and Yitzchak Yashar, architects). At the same time, it also relates to the larger tradition of Modern architecture in Tel Aviv, as seen in the multiple vocabularies of Mendelsohn, the Bauhaus and the White City. The gleaming white parabolas of the façade are composed of 465 differently shaped flat panels made of pre-cast reinforced concrete. Achieving a combination of form and material that is unprecedented in the city, the façade translates Tel Aviv’s existing Modernism into a contemporary and progressive architectural language.

Architect: Preston Scott Cohen, Inc., Cambridge, Massachusetts
Project Team: Preston Scott Cohen, principal in charge of design, Amit Nemlich, project architect; Tobias Nolte, Bohsung Kong, project assistants

Project Managers: CPM Construction Managment Ltd.
Structural Engineers: YSS Consulting Engineers Ltd., Dani Shacham
HVAC: M. Doron - I. Shahar & Co., Consulting Eng. Ltd.
Electrical: U. Brener - A. Fattal Electrical & Systems Engineering Ltd.
Lighting: Suzan Tillotson, New York
Safety: S. Netanel Engineers Ltd
Security: H.M.T
Elevators: ESL- Eng. S. Lustig - Consulting Engineers Ltd.
Acoustics: M.G. Acistical Consultants Ltd.
Traffic: Dagesh Engineering, Traffic & Road Design Ltd.
Sanitation: Gruber Art System Engineering Ltd.
Soil: David David
Survey: B. Gattenyu
Public Shelter: K.A.M.N
Waterproofing: Bittelman
Kitchen Design: Zonnenstein

Key Dates:
Architectural competition: 2003
Design development and construction documents: 2005-06
Groundbreaking: 2007
Opening: November 2, 2011

Size: 195,000 square feet (18,500 square meters), built on a triangular footprint of approximately 48,500 square feet (4,500 square meters)
Cost: $55 million (estimated)

Principal Spaces:
Israeli Art galleries: 18,500 square feet
Architecture and Design galleries: 7,200 square feet
Prints and Drawings galleries: 2,500 square feet
Temporary exhibitions gallery: 9,000 square feet
Photography study center and gallery: 3,700 square feet
Art library: 10,000 square feet
Auditorium: 7,000 square feet
Restaurant: 3,200 square feet
Offices: 2,700 square feet

Principal Materials: Pre-cast reinforced concrete (facades), cast-in-place concrete (Lightfall), glass, acoustical grooved maple (ceilings in lobby and library and auditorium walls) and steel (structural frame)


  • Colonel Pancake

    If Cohen spent as much time getting quality natural light into his galleries as he did trying to rip off Hadid's work from ten years ago, this building would be more than one needlessly complex atrium. But alas, Cohen will get himself in a magazine which is probably what he wants most anyway.

  • THIS IS AWESOME! Baroque is back

  • Oregano Bastille

    The story of this building traces back to 1999, when Preston Scott Cohen downloaded Hadid's study models off of Napster and committed himself to building a needlessly complex tribute to the architect's ego in one of the few remaining middle eastern cities that hasn't yet had the chance to import a piece of vapid sculpture.

  • Paul

    I think the staircase is way to aggressive for a museum of art. And although I'm not a big fan of Hadid, the outside looks a bit like a "wanna-be Phaeno" to me.

  • dana

    the exterior looks just tragic. i remember seing the schematic stuff years ago, looked much better…

  • tike tuke

    If you compare preston scott cohen to zaha hadid, you dont know much about architecture.

    • Pero

      well said. architecture is not only about comparing pics from www

    • Colonel Pancake

      If you think the theoretical axioms of Hadid's deconstructivism and Cohen's descriptive geometry are oppositional to the point where each architect can't create plasticized versions shared phenomenological value and formal characteristics, then you don't know much about architecture.

      In other words, a building is a former idea. Another building is another former idea building. When they are concertized, the intentions of the architects (theoretical or otherwise) are divorced from the building's reality, at which point we approach each of them phenomenologically with our haptic senses, and discard the potential similarities or differences that would hypothetically prevent comparison.

      • Carsten

        To make that simple,
        each building is a: building, two buildings are two buildings and can therefore be compared.

      • tike tuke

        OK, OK, obviously you know about architecture. but anyway if you compare just the formal outcome, and you know what is all about (obviously), I think the comparison is superficial and nothing more. we are the professionals here, not the housemaids dear god.

  • MP

    the Sketchup building

  • so many aggressive comments… is it envy?

  • i read the above….baroque? i dont find any connection….i might find a connection with mendelsohns space flow……ps the central space is white cuz of light reflection and cuz its a neutral and common space tht divides the rest by texture or color change which is emphasized by the sliced look-through openings which have different content spaces…..its very simple but yet geometrically complex…..nothing more…..apart the huge expense which i dont know who is gonna justify……55 M????? a normal residential building costs around 1500/m2 max….just to give u an idea…..the guggenheim museum in bilbao costs around 3500/m2…….anyways i dont pay so i dont care :)