Gallery: Steven Holl’s Modern Art Museum is a Luminous Iceberg


The winner of the 2008 AIA Institute Honor Award along with a slew of other awards and recognitions (even one from Vanity Fair), the Bloch Building has helped put Steven Holl on the map as well as the Kansas City cultural scene. Designed to create contrast, the project was envisioned as a “Feather to the Stone” of the original museum. Light, airy, open and outwardly directed, the extension consists of a series of five “light lenses” that feature open floor plans, views of the surrounding sculpture gardens, and light-filled spaces. The light lenses are made of translucent glass and serve to gather, diffuse and refract light into the museum during the day, providing a naturally daylit interior. At night, the interior lighting shines out of the lenses to illuminate the museum like a glowing beacon.

Additional green design strategies include the extension of the sculpture garden onto the roof to create a green roof for improved insulation and stormwater infiltration, as well as a structural concept created by Holl called the “Breathing Ts”, which serve as ducts for light as well as ventilation. During the winter, air is warmed and directed into rooms, and during the summer hot air is exhausted out. A computer precisely controls the interior climate for individual exhibits, and a translucent insulating material embedded in the glass cavities of the Ts helps control the light. The building itself is a work of art that matches the caliber of the exhibits held inside.

+ Steven Holl Architects

+ Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art


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  1. tomfrazee May 12, 2011 at 4:30 pm

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