Monday, October 02, 2006

Cultural District Decisions

Boston's new Institute of Contemporary Art building will be opening soon.

A recent press release says:

The Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) will open its new waterfront museum this fall. Designed by celebrated architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the art museum is the first to be built in Boston in nearly 100 years and is destined to become one of the most recognized architectural landmarks in the city. The 65,000-square-foot building, featuring a dramatic folding ribbon form and a cantilever that extends to the water's edge, provides a bold presence for the ICA and symbolizes the museum's commitment to contemporary art and design. The ICA is now poised to become a leading forum for multi-disciplinary arts.

The new museum allows the ICA to expand its offerings in the performing arts, film, media and technology and to present exhibitions of a size and scope never before possible. It will also house the museum's first permanent collection, establishing the ICA as the only museum in Boston devoted exclusively to exhibiting and acquiring contemporary art.

The international collection will grow to include works by well-known and emerging artists of the 21st century, representing diverse styles and media.

"The design of the ICA embraces and bridges dual objectives—the museum's mission to become both a dynamic space for public activity and a contemplative space for experiencing the art of our time," says Jill Medvedow, James Sachs Plaut Director of the ICA.

"We hope that the ICA will catalyze the transformation of the waterfront, building upon the emerging energy and vitality of the area."

The ICA will be located on the Boston Harbor waterfront, the city's largest undeveloped frontier and a burgeoning creative center. The ICA will join the new Rafael Viñoly-designed Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, the Children's Museum, and soon, a continuous 47-mile public walkway along the water's edge that will connect cultural and historic attractions.

The new museum features a façade of translucent and transparent glass, wood and metal, and a distinctive cantilever that extends over the public harbor walk, creating an open yet sheltered space at ground level where visitors can gather and enjoy views of Boston Harbor. The innovative design weaves together interior and exterior space, producing shifting perspectives of the waterfront throughout the upper-level galleries and the public spaces.

"Stretching the surface of the building inside and out, almost like a wrapper, we created an ambiguous line between where the civic space of the city ends and where the museum space begins. At the same time, the visitor's experience will be choreographed from the street to the contemplative, luminous galleries on top," says Elizabeth Diller. "We developed a design that is flexible and will always be able to keep up with the changing needs of the contemporary art world."

This is a striking example of what can be done with a building at the waterfront. While Sarasota is leaning toward keeping as much green space as possible along the Cultural District's waterfront to preserve public access and views, this effort in Boston tries to bridge the gap between access, views and indoor space.

Our Cultural District planning is reaching a critical stage as both the West Coast Symphony and the Players Theater have indicated interest in building on this property. Issues of height (view corridor), timing and location are being considered by city staff and commissioners. We hope that the public view is considered heavily in this decision process. This is the last open waterfront space we have. Blocking access and views with a building that serves primarily an indoor audience would be short sighted.

Save Our Sarasota has indicated a strong preference for retaining as much open bayfront space and views as possible. Any building considered for a waterfront should have widespread community support before it is considered. We don't have 47 miles of waterfront available for buildings. We have one last open public space. It needs to be retained.

No comments: