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Projects   Project Portfolio – November 2005
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Figge Art Museum

Davenport, Iowa
David Chipperfield Architects

David Chipperfield’s luminous glass structure brings a clarity and rigor to the new Figge Art Museum in Davenport, Iowa

By Suzanne Stephens

  Photo © Timothy Hursley
   

The road to transforming the city-owned Davenport Museum of Art into the privately run Figge Art Museum was long and bumpy. But it resulted in a taut, gleaming glass, 100,000-square-foot structure rising serenely above the banks of the Mississippi in this small Iowa city west of Chicago. Although the museum leaders sought a structure that would be a magnet for downtown Davenport’s revival, they weren’t looking for an architectural extravaganza. As Thomas Figge, a prominent banker who engineered the contribution of $13 million from the V.O. Figge and Elizabeth Kahl Figge Charitable Foundation for the $46.9 million project, explains, the museum sought an architectural expression that would be “timeless and classic.” The paradigm was nearby––Eero Saarinen’s still-stunning Cor-Ten-steel Deere and Company Headquarters (1962) in Moline, Illinois.

Adding to the complexity of the task was the desire to attract the tourists and residents of the Quad City area (Davenport, Bettendorf, Iowa; plus Moline and Rock Island, Illinois) to a museum with a collection of American regional, Haitian, European, and Mexican colonial art that could not be called a compelling draw. So the museum expanded its program to offer special exhibition space (7,200 square feet on two floors), art studios, a 140-seat auditorium, and a shop and restaurant.

A design that was timeless, would attract droves of visitors, and spark up the downtown of a city of 100,000 sounds ambitious. On top of that loomed decisions about the site and how to pay for the whole thing. Founded in 1925, the Davenport Museum of Art had been most recently housed in a chunky, Brutalist concrete building removed from the downtown area. After some intense negotiating, Figge got 2.2 acres for the museum along the river, in an area where 19th-century Romanesque Revival and Italianate brick commercial buildings alternate with parking lots. To get more money (besides the Figge Foundation’s contribution and those of other private donors), the museum went after $19.9 million in public financing from Vision Iowa, a state program for cultural and educational development, and from city funds available from River Renaissance, Davenport’s initiative for jump-starting downtown projects.

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the People

Client
Davenport Museum of Art

Architect
David Chipperfield Architects
www.davidchipperfield.co.uk

Project Team:
Johannes Baumstark, Franz Borho, David Chipperfield, Jochen Glemser, Isabelle Heide, Victoria Jessen-Pike, Reto Liechti, Laurent Masmonteil, Viola Simoncioni, Jennifer Singer, Hau Ming Tse, Patrick Uberbacher, Reiko Yamasaki

Architect of Record
Herbert Lewis Kruse Blunck Architecture www.hlkb.com

Principles in Charge:
Cal Lewis, FAIA & Kirk Blunck, FAIA

Project Manager:
Doug Frey, AIA

Project Architect:
Jill Anderson, AIA & Cheung Chan, AIA

Specifications Writer:
Mark Schmidt, AIA CSI CCS

Project Designer:
Tom Hilton, AIA, Jonathan Sloan, AIA, LEED AP, Tom Trapp, Evan Shaw, Jeff Wagner, Greg Smith, Carey Nagle

Landscape Architect:
Zach Heitzman

Engineer(s)
Structural:
- Jane Wernick Associates www.wernick.eu.com
- Charles A. Saul Engineering www.csengr.com (Structural Engineer of Record)

Services Engineer:
Arup www.arup.com

Construction Manager
Russell/Pepper Joint Venture

Models
Matthew Marchbank
David Chipperfield Architects

Photographer
Timothy Hursley
(501) 372-0640

Christian Richters
Christian Richters Fotograf
Zumsandestrasse 23
D-48145 Munster, Germany
Tel: 49 251 277447
Fax: 49 251 27438

Don Retherford

Model Photographs:
Richard Davies

the Products

Exterior cladding
Metal/glass curtainwall:
Custom, Design by W.J. Higgins & Associates, www.wjhiggins.com; Contractor: Architectural Wall Systems

Concrete:
Treiber Construction Company www.treiberconstruction.com

Glazing
Glass:
Old Castle Glass www.oldcastle.com

Skylights:
Unicel Architectural www.visioncontrol.qc.ca

Insulated-panel or plastic glazing:
Old Castle Glass www.oldcastle.com

Doors
Metal doors:
Curries Contractor www.curries.com: Doors Inc, Davenport

Upswinging doors, other:
Schweiss Bi-Fold Doors www.bifold.com

Interior finishes
Cabinetwork and custom woodwork:
Calmar Manufacturing Co. www.calmar.com

Paints and stains:
Iowa Paint www.iowapaint.com, no stain on wood floor, finished with OSMO Color Hardwax Oil www.osmouk.com

Wood floor:
Bembé Parkett www.bembe.de

Carpet:
Bentley Prince Street www.bentleyprincestreet.com

Furnishings
Office furniture:
Knoll www.knoll.com

Fixed seating:
Poltrona Frau www.poltronafrau.it

Lighting
Downlights:
Erco www.erco.com

Task lighting:
Erco www.erco.com

Controls:
Lutron www.lutron.com

Conveyance
Elevators/Escalators:
Kone www.kone.com

 
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