Preston Scott Cohen’s Tel Aviv museum

Preston Scott Cohen’s modern museum revamp gives boost to Tel Aviv art scene
Tel Aviv's recently expanded modern art museum, with its dazzling new building no less an attraction than the art showcased inside, has given a home to hundreds of displaced Israeli works and helped boost the city's cultural scene.
Located in the centre of the city's cultural complex, the program for the Tel Aviv Museum of Art Amir Building posed an extraordinary architectural challenge: to resolve the tension between the tight, idiosyncratic triangular site and the museum's need for a series of large, neutral rectangular galleries. The solution: subtly twisting geometric surfaces (hyperbolic parabolas) that connect the disparate angles between the galleries and the context, while refracting natural light into the deepest recesses of the half buried building.
The reason for the four-year, $50 million building project was to provide a space for the collection of Israeli art that was growing in the museum's storage rooms. Many of the newly displayed pieces include elements of Israeli society, from military conscription to the agricultural communes known as kibbutzim. Alongside these nationally inspired contributions, works by renowned German artist Anselm Kieffer – which were inspired by Jewish faith and mysticism – make up a special exhibit for the new wing's opening. The new wing, designed by Massachusetts architect Preston Scott Cohen, has doubled the size of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art by 19,000 sq. m. (200,000 sq. ft.) and lured a growing number of art fans through its new, triangular concrete and glass complex since its November 3 unveiling.
Cohen’s building represents an unusual synthesis of two opposing paradigms for the contemporary museum: the museum of neutral white boxes and the museum of architectural spectacle. Individual, rectangular galleries are organized around the "Lightfall", an eighty-seven foot tall spiraling atrium. The building is composed according to multiple axes that deviate significantly from floor to floor. In essence, it is a series of independent plans and steel structural systems stacked one atop the other, connected by geometric episodes of vertical circulation.

Alésia Museum opening in 2012

Subtle historical references found in Bernard Tschumi Architects' Alésia Museum

The Battle of Alésia was waged by Julius Caesar in September 52BC against a united league of Gallic residents in a French settlement in Burgundy. A major hill fort - Alésia - was the site of the vicious encounter which was eventually won by the Romans, and it is this historic location which has been transformed by architectural theorist and celebrated designer Bernard Tschumi.

On 23rd March 2012, an opening ceremony will be held for the first phase of the Alésia Museum; a cylindrical band of wooden elements that houses an interpretive information centre. This interactive facility will educate visitors on the events of the Battle of Alésia through a series of active exhibitions and displays, with information accessible to those of all ages.
Great care has been taken here to minimise disruption to the historic site and to form a fitting - and historically accurate - tribute to the violent conflict. As such, the roof of the interpretive centre has been planted with shrubs and grasses in order to minimise visual impact when viewed from a neighbouring hill (the historical position of the Gauls), and a wooden envelope constructed to reference the Roman fortifications of the era. Bernard Tschumi Architects admits: “To be both visible and invisible is the paradox and challenge of the project.”

Plans are underway for a second, corresponding building to act as a more traditional museum. Designs suggest a form of similar cylindrical appearance but clad in stone rather than wood, ‘evoking its trenched position’. This will be located on the hill to mark the location of the Gauls and will house historical objects recovered from the site in an alternative educational approach.

Plans are to sink this second building into the hill itself ‘so that from above it appears as an extension of the landscape’; aside from this, the lush green hills remain largely the same today as in 52BC. The second volume is due to complete in 2015.