Akron Art Museum | Coop Himmelblau

Museum as Urban Space

Release Time: November 29, 2022


Client: Akron Art Museum, Akron, Ohio, USA

Planning:COOP HIMMELB(L)AU—Wolf D. Prix, Helmut Swiczinsky+Partner ZT GmbH

Design Principal:Wolf D. Prix

Project Partner:Michael Volk

Design Architects:Tom Wiscombe, Mona Marbach

Project Architect:Angus Schoenberger

Project Team:Mona Bayr, Marcelo Bernadi, Lorenz Bürgi, Mohamed Fezazi, Robert Haranza, Daniela Kobel, Dan Narita, Florian Pfeifer, Dionicio Valdez, Philip Vogt

Executive Architect:Westlake, Reed, Leskosky, Cleveland,Ohio, USA

Structural Engineering:B+G Ingenieure, Bollinger and Grohmann GmbH, Frankfurt, Germany; De Simone ConsultingEngineers, San Francisco, USA

Mechanical Engineering:IBE Consulting Engineers, Los Angeles, USA

Acoustical Engineering:Arup Acoustics, New York, USA

Lighting Design:George Sexton Associates, Washington DC, USA

Images:© COOP HIMMELB(L)AU, © Roland Halbe


Competition(1st Prize):2001

Start of Planning:2002

Start of Construction:2004



Site Area:8,370

Total Usable Floor Area: 8,244 m²

Existing Building (Renovation) Usable Floor Area:2,367 m²

Extention(New Construction) Usable Floor Area:5,877 m²

Building Height Exist8ing Museum:16.76 m

Building Height New Building

Gallery Box:11.25 m Roof:17.5 m   Crystal:17.5 m

Max. Building Length:76 m(Gallery Box)

Max. Building Width:38 m(Gallery Box)

United States


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The concept of museums has changed radically since the cabinet of curiosities (“Wunderkammer”) of Rudolf II and Ferdinand II in the 16th century. With the Akron Art Museum, we developed a new museum concept: ​“a Museum of the Future”.

© Roland Halbe


“The museum of today is no longer conceived only as an institution for storage and display of knowledge, it is an urban concept.”

--Wolf D. Prix

The conventional functions of a museum and an urban space form together a new type of cultural center. The museum of today is no longer conceived only as an institution for storage and display of knowledge, it is an urban concept. The museum of the future is a three-dimensional sign in the city, which exhibits the content of our visual world. More than exhibition spaces that display diverse forms of digital and analog visual information, they function as spaces that cater to urban experiences. This means that art should be able to flow out of the building, and the city to flow inside. This zone becomes a hybrid space where various types of people can meet and unexpected events occur. Rather than going to the museum simply to look at art, visitors are encouraged to engage in artistic discourse, attend music and arts festivals, or simply pass the time until an appointment. Our design is therefore an urban connector as well as a destination point.

© Roland Halbe

© Roland Halbe

© Roland Halbe

The building, an addition to an existing museum structure, is comprised of three parts: the Crystal, the Gallery Box, and the Roof Cloud.

分析图 ©Coop Himmelblau

The Crystal, which is the main entrance, provides orientation and connection between the old and new parts of the building. It is the access area for public resources such as the lecture hall, classroom, library, café, and bookstore.

© Roland Halbe

© Roland Halbe

© Roland Halbe

The interior of the Gallery Box is an expansive space that has very few columns and is therefore extremely flexible for varying exhibition requirements. A large freight elevator brings oversized works to and from the storage areas and serves as a link between the loading dock and the Gallery Box. Natural light is eliminated in the galleries so that it can be strictly controlled, and damage from sunlight can be eliminated.

© Roland Halbe

The Roof Cloud, which hovers above the building, creates a blurred envelope for the museum because of its sheer mass and materiality. It encloses interior space, provides shade around the museum, and operates as a horizontal landmark in the city.

Roof Cloud Exploded Elements ©Coop Himmelblau

Roof Cloud Size Comparison ©Coop Himmelblau

© Roland Halbe

Energy Concept

The necessary energy for lighting, heating, and cooling of the Crystal is minimized by strategic positioning of thermal mass in conjunction with extensive daylighting. The lobby utilizes microclimate zones as a heating and cooling concept. These different zones are determined by analyzing the type and anticipated length of occupancy in various areas of the Crystal and are conditioned through optimization of active and passive means. By eliminating the need to condition the entire air volume in the Crystal, and by focusing the energy used to condition the space in the areas where people are located, operating costs and energy use are significantly reduced.

Lobby Energy Concept ©Coop Himmelblau

© Roland Halbe

Heating and Cooling with Building Mass

The Crystal and gallery floors are composed of poured in place concrete slabs with water-filled tubes that supply heating and cooling by changing the temperature state of the massive floor slab. This radiant floor system is more efficient than simple forced air systems because it uses the mass of the concrete as a storage device that delivers a stable continuous source of heating and cooling.

© Roland Halbe


The mass and location of the Gallery Box and Roof Cloud protect the southern oriented Crystal glazing from direct sunlight. At the same time, the reflectivity of the façade material raises natural light levels in the Crystal and reduces the need to power artificial light sources.

Model ©Gerald Zugmann

Model ©Gerald Zugmann

Model ©Markus Pillhofer

© Coop Himmelblau

© Coop Himmelblau

© Coop Himmelblau

Sketch ©Coop Himmelblau

Sketch ©Coop Himmelblau

High Roof Primary Structure ©Coop Himmelblau

Roof Primary Secondary Structure ©Coop Himmelblau

Site Plan ©Coop Himmelblau

Ground Floor Plan ©Coop Himmelblau

Second Floor Plan ©Coop Himmelblau

Section C-C ©Coop Himmelblau

Section F-F ©Coop Himmelblau

Section Crystal ©Coop Himmelblau

# Architecture Design # Cultural Architecture # 博物馆设计

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