Aspen is renowned as a fancy ski town – and now it’s become a fancy art town with the addition of the New Aspen Art Museum designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Shigeru Ban. The previous museum was located in an old power plant down by the river, but the non-profit organization ran out of space so they commissioned a four-story state-of-the-art facility right in downtown Aspen. The new building triples the museum’s exhibition space and even adds a new black-box theater, a rooftop deck and sculpture garden, plus lots of room to run the organization’s many art workshops for children and adults.
“The design for the New Aspen Art Museum is a very exciting opportunity to create a harmony between Aspen’s existing architecture and the surrounding natural beauty,” explains Shigeru Ban. “In the design, 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.”
Visitors to the museum will first notice the woven wood screen on the exterior, which is inspired by the region’s abundant forests. The facade allows light to filter inside while preventing excessive glare and solar gain. Once inside, patrons ascend to the top of the museum via the grand staircase or glass elevator – this elevation change mirrors a mountain ascent via gondola or ski lift. From there, they can take in views of the town and surrounding mountains, eat in the cafe or wander around the rooftop sculpture garden.
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Then visitors descend into the rest of the museum to tour the exhibition spaces, which are lit from above via sturdy skylights on the rooftop deck. The flexible new facility also allows the organization to hold a variety of events ranging from weddings to parties, concerts, education workshops, film screenings and much more.
Images ©Billy Farrell, David Prutting and Derek Skalko courtesy of the Aspen Art Museum