Parrish Art Museum by
Herzog & de Meuron


This may look like a pair of barns in a field, but its actually the new home that Swiss architecture studio Herzog & de Meuron has completed for the Parrish Art Museum on Long Island (+ slideshow).

Parrish Art Museum by Herzog & de Meuron

Herzog & de Meuron drew inspiration from the archetypal house to create the two gabled structures that comprise the building, which is reminiscent of the stacked volumes the architects created for the VitraHaus furniture gallery in Germany.

Parrish Art Museum by Herzog & de Meuron

Above: photograph is by Matthu Placek

"Our design for the Parrish Art Museum is a reinterpretation of a very genuine Herzog & de Meuron typology, the traditional house form,"  said Jacques Herzog. "What we like about this typology is that it is open for many different functions, places and cultures. Each time this simple, almost banal form has become something very specific, precise and also fresh."

Parrish Art Museum by Herzog & de Meuron

Galleries and other rooms are arranged in two parallel rows beneath the shallow-pitched roofs, while a long corridor is sandwiched between to create a run of ten sub-divisible exhibition spaces at the centre.

Parrish Art Museum by Herzog & de Meuron

"All galleries have large north-facing and small south-facing skylights, which fill the spaces with ever-changing daylight and allow direct views to the sky and the clouds passing by," said Herzog & de Meuron senior partner Ascan Mergenthaler.

Parrish Art Museum by Herzog & de Meuron

Overhanging eaves create sheltered terraces around the building's perimeter, including a cafe terrace that the gallery hopes to use for events, workshops and performances.

Parrish Art Museum by Herzog & de Meuron

Above: photograph is by Matthu Placek

Chairs and tables designed by Konstantin Grcic furnish this terrace and offer visitors a place to look out across the surrounding meadows.

Parrish Art Museum by Herzog & de Meuron

Above: photograph is by Matthu Placek

The new building doubles the size of the museum's previous Southampton home on Jobs Lane, where the arts institution had been based since it was first established in 1897.

Parrish Art Museum by Herzog & de Meuron

Above: photograph is by Matthu Placek

The galleries open with a special exhibition celebrating the work of artist Malcolm Morley, while the permanent collection will contain artworks from the nineteenth century onwards.

Parrish Art Museum by Herzog & de Meuron

The architects revealed the finalised designs for the building in 2009, following a series of budget cuts that forced them to reconsider their original concept.

Parrish Art Museum by Herzog & de Meuron

See more stories about Herzog & de Meuron, including interviews we filmed with both Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron at the opening of their Serpentine Gallery Pavilion this summer.

Photography is by Clo'e Floirat, apart from where otherwise stated.

Here's a design statement from Herzog & de Meuron:

The starting point for the new Parrish Art Museum is the artist’s studio in the East End of Long Island. We set the basic parameters for a single gallery space by distilling the studio’s proportions and adopting its simple house section with north-facing skylights. Two of these model galleries form wings around a central circulation spine that is then bracketed by two porches to form the basis of a straightforward building extrusion.

Parrish Art Museum by Herzog & de Meuron

The floor plan of this extrusion is a direct translation of the ideal functional layout. A cluster of ten galleries defines the heart of the museum. The size and proportion of these galleries can be easily adapted by re-arranging partition walls within the given structural grid. To the east of the gallery core are located the back of house functions of administration, storage, workshops and loading dock. To the west of the galleries are housed the public program areas of the lobby, shop, and café with a flexible multi-purpose and educational space at the far western end.

Parrish Art Museum by Herzog & de Meuron

An ordered sequence of post, beam and truss defines the unifying backbone of the building. Its materialisation is a direct expression of readily accessible building materials and local construction methods.

Parrish Art Museum by Herzog & de Meuron

The exterior walls of in situ concrete act as long bookends to the overall building form, while the grand scale of these elemental walls is tempered with a continuous bench formed at its base for sitting and viewing the surrounding landscape. Large overhangs running the full length of the building provide shelter for outdoor porches and terraces.

Parrish Art Museum by Herzog & de Meuron

The placement of the building is a direct result of the skylights facing towards the north. This east-west orientation, and its incidental diagonal relationship within the site, generates dramatically changing perspective views of the building and further emphasises the building’s extreme yet simple proportions. It lays in an extensive meadow of indigenous grasses that refers to the natural landscape of Long Island.

  • Nord Wennerstrom

    Thanks for this posting – the article talks about the “field” and the “surrounding meadows” without any mention of the landscape architects involved. Who did the landscape architecture?

  • Hi Nord, the landscape design is by Reed Hilderbrand Associates Inc.


  • Cosmin

    What landscape architecture? It’s only grass.

    • Alex

      Sounds like someone’s been smoking it!

      • ABee

        Sir, you need a joint.

  • Colonel Pancake

    I suspect Herzog & de Meuron didn’t put much effort into this.

    • freakydeeky

      Incorrect. Budget was cut.

  • urbane.abuse

    There is a tree on the left.

  • marco

    The first “fresh” building from Herzog & de Meuron in a very long time!

    • simoes

      I totally agree with marco: it’s like a breath of fresh air. It reminds me of the attitude they had in their early works. I love it!

  • Damian

    The elongated exterior bench on the Vitra house is made in wood, which has a warmth to it. Applying the same concept but doing it in concrete is ignorant in relation to the human being and can be considered dogmatic.

    But that bench is only an exterior detail anyway, right? Coming up with that iconic shape of a barn took up all their resources.

  • Ema

    The effortless beauty of a sincere design.

  • jason


  • C

    This is the first decent Herzog & de Meuron building I’ve seen for a while. Back to basics in these chastened times?

  • Stela

    Could we all agree it is a barn?

  • ang

    I wonder what the reactions would be if the post didn’t mention it was by Herzog & de Meuron.

    • Jez

      Totally agree. It’s hard to be objective in the face of self promotion and hero worship. I think it’s quite dull. The barn form isn’t imaginatively developed. It’s just a long barn.

  • mil

    One of the best works of Herzog & de Meuron in years. Very clear and rational for the context. Sometimes it is better to have a low budget than too much. By the way, very optimistic and healthy considering all the obsession with the ornamental at the moment.

  • Lorenzo

    I’m glad that Herzog & de Meuron have come back to the origin of their architecture. It reminds me of some of their first projects like Ricola. No more morphing: go on with addition and extrusion guys!

  • Glenn Murcutt meets Kahn’s Kimball Gallery – I like it.

  • Anne

    Simple, elegant solution for a gallery space. It concerns me that the works on display seem to lack adequate controlled lighting.

  • zizi

    Back to basics, a symbol of post-economic crisis architecture, cheap bare stripped unimaginative and utilitarian. This could also be a model shelter for apocalyptic events.

  • edou777

    Well… the central part could have been better, not sure that neon light is the best idea.

    • maggie

      Agree… looks like it should be wider or have skylights.

  • Question to the editors:

    Why is it that for each story, the lead slideshow displays uncropped (usually 3×2) images, whereas the images that occur in-line with the story are cropped to be square or something closer to 5×4.

    Interested to hear your thoughts on the matter.

    • Hi @samueltludwig.

      The slideshow images must have fixed proportions in order to fit that space on the page, whereas we can display images of any ratio in the main column so long as they're the correct width.

      Hope that helps!


  • Bill

    Go to an exhibit. You will be shocked at the dull spaces. Very poor fluorescent lighting ruins the gallery experience – imagine viewing paintings without full-spectrum lighting (another unpleasant experience is the wire-strung parking lot). It is really ugly.


    When this was being built, I had assumed it was a horse stable. Or perhaps storage for winter road salt. Then when it was done, we were all like “is it done? As in done-done?” It’s too massive.

    The landscaping is feeble. The design is going for minimal, but the minimal style is at odds with the massive proportion. The overwhelming feeling in Southampton is that they overspent for something that is an eyesore from Montauk Hwy.

    There’s definitely an undercurrent of embarrassment with the result. Unfortunately few will publicly say anything, because everyone worked so hard to get it. Now we are stuck with it.