Architect pitches Aspen Art Museum plan |

Architect pitches Aspen Art Museum plan

Katie Redding
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” Japanese architect Shigeru Ban is in Aspen this week to present his design for the proposed new Aspen Art Museum.

Ban’s two-building design would be built on the site of the former Aspen Youth Center, pending voter approval on Question 1 on Aspen’s May 5 ballot. The question authorizes the Aspen City Council to negotiate the sale of the Aspen Youth Center property to the museum. The art museum also has said it would accept a long-term lease.

Once called “The Accidental Environmentalist” by The New York Times, Ban is known for his innovative approaches to environmentally sound architecture.

Critics cite his penchant for building with low-cost materials, especially paper. Ban has designed 23 structures constructed out of paper tubes ” including a school, a bridge and a church. In 2000, Time magazine named Ban one of the 100 “innovators of the year.”

“My architectural practice is about people’s emotional connection to the buildings they occupy, and I strive for a unified relationship between the structure and the landscape,” he has said.

Ban’s design for the new Aspen Art Museum would be built primarily out of wood and glass.

All told, the buildings would comprise 30,000 square feet and would include six galleries (one of which could be used as a black box theater), storage, offices, a boardroom, workshop space, a library, a cafe, a bar, a restaurant and a loading dock.

The design envisions one long, flat glass exhibition hall supported by woven trusses of sustainably harvested plywood.

“Since natural light is generally healthy in areas where we have circulation and public gatherings, we utilize natural light as much as possible,” writes the architect in the plans. At night, shades will be employed to reduce heat loss and minimize light pollution.

At the entrance, a covered outdoor sculpture garden leads into a reception-cafe-bookstore area that features ski boot storage. A glass elevator from the parking garage will also enter the building here, replacing the current elevator. The opposite end of the building, facing Rio Grande Park, would feature another outdoor sculpture garden, with views of Red Mountain.

However, most of the galleries, and the bulk of the structure ” roughly 65 percent ” would be underground in order to shield the art from natural light.

Beside the main building rises a seven-story round “education wing” (with two underground floors), also constructed of wood trusses encased in glass. If built, it would be the only building in Aspen with five above-ground stories, according to data from the city.

The glass facades on the education wing and the exhibition hall will employ insulated glazing (most likely triple pane), according to Rich Cieciuch, project manager. In the winter, the spaces will absorb sunlight for passive solar gain. In summer, passive gain will be controlled by shades and a louvered ceiling. Insulated walls on the north and east facades of the exhibition hall will help trap heat.

The buildings will be primarily heated by gas-fired boilers and cooled via chilled ground water and a heat exchanger.

Ban will present his design to the public at 6 p.m. Wednesday, 6 p.m. Thursday, and noon Friday. The Aspen Art Museum also has a model of the proposed new museum on display during its normal business hours.

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