Case study 2: Bloch Building

To create a 15 300m2 extension running along the eastern side of the museum campus. It should provide a counterpoint to the original 1933 Beaux Arts building and balance innovation with respect for the original design.



Bloch Building – Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, US



Client: Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
Architect: Steven Holl Architects (Principal architects: Steven Holl and Chris McVoy)
Structural engineer: Guy Nordenson and Associates
Mechanical engineer: Ove Arup & Partners
Landscape architect: Gould Evans and Olin Partnership
Glass consultant: RA Heintges Architects
Lighting design: Renfro Design Group


The brief: To create a 15 300m2 extension running along the eastern side of the museum campus. It should provide a counterpoint to the original 1933 Beaux Arts building and balance innovation with respect for the original design.


Steven Holl says: ‘The extension features a cascading level of expansive, light-filled galleries – five interconnected structures, as opposed to a single, massive expansion. Five lenses of glass walls emerge from the ground and create a luminous, undulating interplay between architecture, landscape and art.


Traversing from the existing building across the Sculpture Garden, the five lenses form new spaces and angles of vision. Inside, translucence and opacity, tranquillity and energy are key considerations. The lenses’ multiple layers of translucent glass gather, diffuse and refract light, at times materialising light-like blocks of ice. During the day, the lenses inject varying qualities of light into the galleries, while at night the Sculpture Garden glows with their internal light.


Additional lighting is a combination of indirect cove lighting, intermittent (‘stitch’) track incandescent lighting and recessed linear fluorescent fixtures, designed to balance the colour and intensity with the natural light from the lenses.


The interiors create spaces for particular works of art, with a court dedicated to the museum’s Isamu Noguchi sculptures. They also include an entry plaza and reflecting pool. The galleries are organised in sequence to support the progression of the collections and gradually step down into the park.


Movement through the galleries is punctuated by views into the landscape; circulation and exhibition merge as visitors can look from one level to another, from inside to outside.


The meandering path threaded between the lenses in the Sculpture Garden has its sinuous complement in the open flow through the galleries below. The Sculpture Garden continues up and over the gallery roofs and provides sustainable Green roofs to achieve high insulation and control storm water.’



Specifier’s checklist and principal finishes:
• Channel glass: Bendheim Wall Systems
• Site-specific art installation (reflecting pool): Walter de Maria
• Lenses: Double-layer glass assembly.
The outer layer consists of double interlocked glass plank with Okalux translucent insulation in between. The inner layer is translucent laminated low-iron glass, with an acid-etch finish
• Flooring: Terrazzo with recycled glass aggregate, stained end-grain red oak block and granite
• Wall finishes: Polished plaster
• Glass railings: Acid-etched low-iron glass
• Metal railings and hardware: Bead-blasted stainless steel
• Public elevator interior surfaces: Translucent honeycomb panels with bead-blasted stainless steel hardware



Project completed: June 2007

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