The new Aspen Art Museum designed by Shigeru Ban, opening to the public on August 9, 2014. Photo: Billy Farrell/BFAnyc.com.
ASPEN, CO.- The Aspen Art Museum will open the doors of its new, 33,000-square-foot Shigeru Ban-designed building to the public on Saturday, August 9, 2014. The new building, located at 637 East Hyman Avenue in the heart of downtown Aspen, opens during the Museum’s 35th year of operation as a kunsthalle, and features year-round free admission, a rooftop sculpture garden with dramatic views of Aspen’s main skiing mountain, Ajax, and the surrounding landscape, and 17,500 square feet of exhibition space—more than tripling the amount of exhibition space in the the Museum’s current building.
Of the new Museum’s design, architect Ban explains: “In designing the Aspen Art Museum, I wanted to create a site-specific sequence that took into account the mountain views and the building’s purpose as an art museum, and to open the building to the outside so visitors could appreciate the beauty of Aspen from inside the building. I made the entrance foyer on the rooftop. It is like the experience of skiing—you go up to the top of a mountain, enjoy the view, and then slide down. I also achieved this sequence by opening the Museum to the beauty of nature with five important design features: the Grand Stair, the Moving Glass Room Elevator, the Woven Wood Screen, the Wood Roof Structure (Wood Truss System), and the Walkable Skylights.”
The Museum’s inaugural exhibitions present a dynamic slate of contemporary art. The lead exhibition will be David Hammons Yves Klein/Yves Klein David Hammons, an unprecedented coupling of two of the most significant artists of our time (through November 30); Shigeru Ban: Humanitarian Architecture, presenting full-scale examples of Ban’s groundbreaking designs for humanitarian relief (through October 5); Tomma Abts: Mainly Drawings, an exploration of the artist’s drawing practice (through October 26); Rosemarie Trockel, a focused look at the artist’s engagement with the medium of ceramics (through October 26); Jim Hodges: With Liberty and Justice For All (A Work in Progress), a new outdoor installation on the plaza outside the museum (through January 4, 2015); and Cai Guo-Qiang’s Black Lightning and Moving Ghost Town for which the artist will create both a firework event on August 2 and a site-specific environment on the rooftop of the new building (through October 26).
Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson, AAM Nancy and Bob Magoon CEO and Director, comments: “I know I speak for our AAM Board, National Council, members, and staff when I say that I am so very proud to announce the imminent completion of the new AAM building and our 24-hour grand opening celebration on August 9. Our new building represents an extraordinary accomplishment made possible by a host of committed people who all share a profound belief in the vitality of the AAM and its mission. We look ahead to every promise our new facility holds, and we welcome everyone to join in celebrating with us at our new downtown Aspen location.”
Located on the corner of South Spring Street and East Hyman Avenue in Aspen’s downtown core, the new AAM is Shigeru Ban’s first permanent U.S. museum to be constructed. Ban’s vision for the new AAM is based on transparency and open view planes—inviting those outside to engage with the building’s interior, and providing those inside the opportunity to see their exterior surroundings.
The main entrance is located on the north side of the building along East Hyman Avenue, which allows access to the reception area and two ground-floor galleries. From there, visitors may choose their path through museum spaces—ascending to upper levels either via Ban’s Moving Room glass elevator in the northeast corner, or the Grand Stair on the east side. The Grand Stair—a three-level passageway between the building’s woven exterior screen and its interior structure—is intersected by a glass wall dividing it into a ten-foot-wide exterior space and a six-foot-wide interior space. The unique passage allows for the natural blending of outdoor and indoor spaces, and will also feature mobile pedestals for exhibiting art. The exterior Woven Wood Screen is made of the composite material Prodema—an amalgam of paper and resin encased within a dual-sided wood veneer.
From the roof-deck sculpture garden, visitors will enjoy unparalleled vistas of Aspen’s environment and the only unobstructed public rooftop view of Ajax Mountain. The roof deck will also be an activated exhibition and event space featuring the café, So, a bar, and an outdoor screening space.
Other new AAM amenities include an education space, the AAM shop/bookstore, and an on-site artist apartment, as well as art storage and preparation spaces. The AAM Shop is collaborating with New York’s iconic nonprofit art bookseller Printed Matter to feature artist-produced titles alongside its own AAM imprint publications, as well as featuring a number of unique and collectible artist-edition offerings.
In recent years, the AAM’s annual attendance has increased by 110%, its staff tripled, and the institution has seen the number of students served by museum educational programming skyrocket with a 1,140% increase. A longstanding strategic goal for the AAM—the expansion of its facility and relocation to the downtown Aspen core—became a necessity.
In 2007, the AAM appointed an Architect Selection Committee (which included ASC chair and then-acting Secretary of AAM’s Board of Trustees, the late Frances Dittmer; 2007 AAM Board of Trustees President Nancy Magoon and AAM Board members Larry Marx and Gayle Stoffel; and AAM National Council members Stefan T. Edlis and Diane Halle), who unanimously selected Shigeru Ban (Shigeru Ban Architects) for the project.
In August 2010, the AAM moved forward with the acquisition of property at the corner of South Spring Street and East Hyman Avenue. A groundbreaking event was held on the new site on “Aspen’s Day” 8/16/11, and construction began in October 2012, with international construction team Turner Construction in the leading role, and a goal of completion established for summer 2014.
Construction of the new AAM facility and its endowment is 100% privately funded, with overall Capital and Endowment pledges of nearly $70 million raised—$45 million in building Project funds and $25 million for the museum’s endowment.