David Chipperfield . HOK

SLAM East Building . Saint Louis

David Chipperfield . HOK . photos: © Jacob Sharp -uos- . + dezeen

Opening of the Museum's more than 200,000-square-foot East Building, designed David Chipperfield with technical assistance from HOK.

© Simon Menges


© Simon Menges

The Museum's collections span some 5,000 years and feature masterpieces from the ancient Mediterranean, Asia, Africa, the Islamic world, Europe and the Americas. All aspects of the collections will be celebrated at the time of the opening.
The East Building galleries dedicated to the permanent collection will explore developments in American art after World War II. Beginning with American responses to Surrealism and the emergence of Abstract Expressionism, the presentation will proceed to movements including Minimalism, Pop and Process art. Galleries also will address themes such as the return to figuration and contemporary modes of abstraction. Artists represented in the installation will include earlier figures such as Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Frank Stella,Ellsworth Kelly and Andy Warhol and more recent artists such as Leonardo Drew, Teresita Fernández, Kerry James Marshall and Julie Mehretu. Thirty percent of the works in the installation will not have been on view for approximately a decade.
The Museum's former temporary exhibition galleries in the 1904 building will now be devoted to the permanent collection, and more than 50 galleries in the Cass Gilbert-designed Main Building recently have been reinstalled as part of a renovation project complementing the East Building expansion. Notable reinstallations in the original building include the galleries for 18th century European art, with works by Canaletto, Tiepolo, Chardin, Reynolds and Gainsborough presented within the context of the Grand Tour; the French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist galleries, with works by masters from Manet, Monet and Renoir through van Gogh and Gauguin installed thematically; and a dedicated gallery to house the Museum's collection of the work of Max Beckmann, the largest of its kind in the world.

David Chipperfield's design joins the two buildings seamlessly with a new Grand Stair, which also establishes clear and organic connections among primary circulation axes. The new circulation path leads directly from the Grand Stair to lower-level galleries and a concourse with a new 60-seat cafe, a renovated museum shop and auditorium, and access to a new below-grade parking garage.
The outstanding design feature of the galleries of the East Building is an innovative coffered ceiling made of white concrete. The ceiling houses 698 coffers, most with scrimmed skylights to provide abundant but controlled natural light to the galleries. The lighting system is designed in collaboration with Arup.
Floors in the East Building are made of six-inch-wide planks of white oak, and the floor vents are stainless steel, both chosen to minimize distraction from the works of art.
The landscape design by Michel Desvigne features the installation of outdoor sculptures by artists including Alexander Calder, Henry Moore and George Rickey; as well as new plantings – including approximately 300 trees – in accordance with St. Louis's existing Forest Park Master Plan. The landscape design will be executed in phases, with much of the most significant work to be completed after the June 2013 opening.

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