October 26, 2005
British architect David Chipperfield
is quickly becoming a household name in heartland America.
His Figge Art Museum opened in August in Davenport, Iowa,
and his office is finishing up the Public Library of Des Moines.
Topping all this off is a commission
Chipperfield just received to add 120,000 square feet to the
Saint Louis Art Museum, designed by Cass Gilbert for the Worlds
Fair in 1904.
The museums selection committee,
according to Saint Louis museum director Brent R. Benjamin,
wanted a building of our time that would fit in
with the Beaux-Arts architecture of the museum and its parklike
setting. Chipperfields quietly elegant addition to the
Neoclassical-style Museum of Modern Literature in Marbach,
Germany, opening this month, reportedly helped give him an
edge in a list of more than 100 architects.
What explains the appeal of the Briton
in middle America? Benjamin thinks the Chipperfield cluster
is a coincidence. However, director of the Des Moines Public
Library, Kay Runge, says the architect responds to the Midwest
mindset. She notes, Chipperfield gives you individual
buildings, not just in the mold, but with a down-to-earth
elegance. And he listens to the client.