Studio Gang’s highly anticipated $155 million Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts (AMFA) project has finally opened to the public after a painstaking renovation and expansion of the aging museum, including an interesting pleated roof that helps reduce its overall energy consumption.
Studio Gang’s vision for the museum is to bring together the eight separate buildings it has added to during its 87 years of operation. The firm also rebuilt its original Art Deco façade and added a dramatic light-filled central space. Tasteful and subtle, the interiors are designed throughout, with polished concrete floors echoing attractive timber and stone ceilings, while also improving access to the museum’s gallery spaces.
“The signature design gesture of the revamped AMFA is its central addition, an organically curved, naturally lit linking space that connects the 1937 northern entrance to the new park entrance to the south,” explained Studio Gang. “Its 5,270-square-foot (489-square-meter) three-story high atrium allows people and art to flow seamlessly through the museum, distinguishing each of AMFA’s key programming areas and intuitively guiding guests between spaces.
“The unique ‘flowering’ roof of the central addition is an innovative folded-slab structure made of cast-in-place concrete that spans the entire length of the building from north to south. Following the topography of the site, its skylights drop gradually in height and the windows allow Natural light fills the museum’s interior, while its sheltered overhangs provide protection from the sun’s heat.”
Renovation has received LEED Silver Green Building Standards because of its sustainability. Studio Gang attempted to reuse as many existing materials as possible, including the original structure and foundations made of concrete and steel, as well as some masonry, precast concrete and metal facade sections.
As previously mentioned, the innovative pleated roof overhangs to shade the museum’s interior, reducing solar heat gain and minimizing energy use required for mechanical cooling. Its form also directs rainwater to the gardens in and around the museum, where it is collected in a storage area for irrigation. Energy efficient radiant floor heating and cooling keep the interior at a comfortable temperature. Additionally, landscaping was significant and magnolia groves and other native plants and trees were reintroduced at the site.
The AMFA project was carried out in collaboration with Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects and landscape architects SCAPE. Studio Gang is having a big year for museum design, as the firm’s sculpture, the American Museum of Natural History, is also nearing completion.