Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland
by Farshid Moussavi


This six-sided building covered in mirrors is the new home for the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland in Ohio by London-based architect Farshid Moussavi (+ slideshow).

Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland by Farshid Moussavi

The four-storey building, which opened this weekend, features faceted walls clad in mirrored black stainless steel and replaces the museum's former address in the loft of an old playhouse complex.

Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland by Farshid Moussavi

Visitors to the museum arrive inside a full-height atrium, where the structure of the walls is left exposed and the surfaces have been painted bright blue.

Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland by Farshid Moussavi

White staircases lead up to galleries on each of the floors, including a large top floor exhibition space where the ceiling is coloured with the same blue paint as the walls to offer an alternative to the standard 'white-cube' gallery.

Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland by Farshid Moussavi

Located at the intersection of two major avenues, the museum faces onto a new public square by landscape architects James Corner Field Operations and has entrances on four of its elevations for flexibility between different exhibitions and events.

Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland by Farshid Moussavi

As the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland is a non-collecting museum, it places extra emphasis on public programmes and events, which will take place inside a double-height multi-purpose space on the building's ground floor.

Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland by Farshid Moussavi

Farshid Moussavi Architecture completed the project in collaboration with architects Westlake Reed Leskosky, who are based in Cleveland.

Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland by Farshid Moussavi

The museum first unveiled the designs for the building back in 2010, which you can see in our earlier story.

Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland by Farshid Moussavi

Farshid Moussavi launched her studio just over a year ago - find out more here.

Photography is by Dean Kaufman.

Here's some more information from the architect's website:

MOCA is a 34,000 sq. ft. non-collecting museum in the emerging Uptown district of Cleveland's University Circle neighbourhood. Located on the corner of a triangular site at the junction of two major roads, the building will act as a beacon for this area of the city.

Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland by Farshid Moussavi

The new MOCA is arranged as a multi-storey building in order to produce a compact envelope and optimal environmental performance, and to liberate space for a museum plaza. The building in this location is exposed on all sides and has multiple entrances which will bring the museum added flexibility. Its prismatic form is clad in mirror black stainless steel panels which are arranged along a diagonal grid to follow the diagonal load bearing structure of the external envelope. These reflective panels will respond to weather changes and movement around the museum, providing visitors with constantly changing perceptions.

Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland by Farshid Moussavi

Upon entering the building, visitors will find the structure left exposed on the interior face of the envelope and treated with a fire-resistant, intense blue paint. The museum’s public and “back of house” activities will be interspersed along the section of the building and accessed physically and visually by a grand stair which ascends the museum’s vertical atrium. Each floor is designed to host a variety of configurations for maximum flexibility, with the blue inner surface which envelopes the different spaces providing a consistency across the various museum events. In the main gallery on the top floor, the blue surface will rise to form a deep blue ceiling, evoking the sky or a sense of boundlessness in contrast to the traditional idea of the gallery as a white, sealed, cube.

  • Cleveland is about a five hour drive from where I live. This provides me as good an excuse as any to go back for a visit.

    • sor perdida

      Don’t forget to check out the Tadao Ando Music Conservatory, as well as Marcel Breuer’s little gem in the campus. (Does anyone else hate driving from Chicago to NY?)

      Farshid is a killer, I enjoy the interior space they created.

      • Joe

        Tadao Ando project in Ohio?

  • photographer

    Doesn’t look that special from the photos, but maybe a good building nevertheless (Was it low budget?)

  • Jan Gehl

    This is one of the worst buildings I have seen on this website.

    • Alejandro Z

      I totally agree Jan, I hate anything she does indeed, and I’ll go to through any website trying to convince everybody of how bad it is. But could you help me giving any reason to say that? Otherwise they’ll think I’m just jealous…

      • Rob

        Just curious, what are your reasons are for hating anything she does?

      • libnypacheco


    • New Urban Grit

      Haha, yes, we in Cleveland are so ashamed to have a brand new iconic home for our Museum of Contemporary Art at the intersection of two important avenues on the east side.

      Get off your ridiculous aesthetic intelligista kick and tell us why you find the building unattractive. I find it quite attractive. But neither of our opinions are important. What’s important is the institution it houses, the notion that it will give passersby something to discuss, and the fact that it is a reinvestment in an important cultural place.

  • Alfred

    I saw renders of this building in 2006 – it was called the Architecture Foundation in London back then:

  • bill

    This was slammed pretty badly when the concept designs were published nearly three years ago. In real life it looks about as dreadful. What a waste.

  • David Wolfe

    The final photography exemplifies the thoughtfulness of craft and construction that can only be evidenced from an accomplished and mature design firm.

    The color, material choices and final detailing have thrust this project beyond a merely interesting form and into a brilliant architectural triumph. We should look forward to more good design from Farshid Moussavi Architecture in the future.