Projects   Project Portfolio – November 2005
----- Advertising -----
----- Advertising -----
Sweets, Search Building Products

High Museum of Art

Renzo Piano Building Workshop

Renzo Piano Building Workshop doubles the size of the High Museum in Atlanta embracing Richard Meier’s original building with a villagelike campus for culture

By William Weathersby, Jr.

  Photo © Jonathan Hillyer

When Richard Meier’s building for the High Museum of Art opened in Atlanta in 1983, the design put the museum on the national cultural map. Previously housed in a warren of galleries in the unremarkable concrete behemoth Memorial Arts Center nearby, the museum moved into light-filled galleries surrounding a central atrium that Meier acknowledged alluded to Wright’s seminal Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan. The white porcelain-paneled exterior gleamed in the sunlight. Critics called the High “a museum finally big enough for Atlanta,” and, as Margaret Gaskie wrote then [RECORD, January 1984, page 118], the museum was “undeniably a jewel and Meier’s finest work to date.”

Flash forward more than two decades. Over the years critics complained that the High’s atrium created glare, its circulation routes were awkward, and some galleries really did not showcase art very well. While Meier’s building indeed remains a sculptural presence in the landscape, it now has become only one compass point in a remarkable new arts campus that is poised to enhance this north Atlanta neighborhood. This month, the High debuts three new buildings designed by Renzo Piano Building Workshop. With pavilions fanning out from a central public piazza, Piano’s design expands the High into more than a one-stop museum site. Following through on his own 30-year master plan for the Woodruff Arts Center (which in addition to the High also includes the Alliance Theater, the Atlanta Symphony, and the Atlanta College of Art on the 8.5-acre site), the architect has built a veritable village of culture. Piano’s complex does not overpower the Meier building; rather, the quietly handsome new structures create a counterpoint to it, orchestrating a dialogue in the same architectural language of scale, detailing, and white cladding. In this case, bigger seems so much better.

More than doubling the museum’s size to 312,000 square feet, Piano’s scheme can’t really be called an addition. “Rather than designing a museum, we wanted to create a sense of place,” Piano says, “an urban destination that extends the streetscape and welcomes pedestrians onto the campus from multiple vantage points.” (Piano, handpicked by the museum administration to succeed Meier, worked in collaboration with Atlanta-based architect Lord, Aeck & Sargent. Two-years ago, Piano completed the first leg of the project with a new 75-room dormitory and studio building for the Atlanta College of Art adjacent to the site of the museum administration building. It serves as the southern gateway at one corner of the site.)

Want the full story? Read the entire article in our November 2005 issue.
Subscribe to Architectural Record in print, or get Architectural Record digitally

the People

High Museum of Art, Atlanta,

Renzo Piano Building Workshop, Genoa, Italy
in collaboration with Lord, Aeck & Sargent, Atlanta

Arup, London and New York, in collaboration with Uzun & Case Engineers, Atlanta
and Jordan & Skala Engineers, Atlanta

Civil Engineers:
HDR, Atlanta

Acoustics, Façade & Lighting:
Arup Acoustics

– Bergmeyer Associates, Boston
– Brand + Allen Architects, Houston, Texas
– Carbone Smolan Agency, New York
– idea|span, Atlanta
– JGL Management Services Company, Princeton, New Jersey
– Jordan, Jones and Goulding, Norcross, Georgia
– CH Guernsey and Company, Denver, Colorado
– Newcomb & Boyd, Atlanta
– Richard Jansen, Architect, South Nyack, New York
– Waveguide Consulting, Atlanta, Georgia

Program Management
Jones Lang LaSalle, Atlanta

Skanska Russell, Atlanta

Jonathan Hillyer

the Products

Exterior Cladding
Aluminum cladding panels:
Harmon/Linel signature

LaFarge North America

Starfire glass, Viracon; LinEl Signature (installation)

Interior Fisnishes
Wood flooring:
AAA World Floors

Lithonia lighting

Gallery light fixtures:

KONE /Tyler

Motorized sunshades:
Arquati (Admin. Building)

Kitchen Equipment:
Atlanta Kitchen Equipment Inc.

Air handling equipment and controls:

----- Advertising -----