I recently had the opportunity to visit the Zaha Hadid-designed Eli & Edythe Broad Art Museum (2012) on the campus of Michigan State University in East Lansing, MI. This angular building differentiates itself from the surrounding built environment thanks not only to its dramatic folded form, but also the way in which the materials it's made from are utilized. Read and see more after the jump...
My experience with Zaha Hadid's work has been limited prior to visiting this building, and generally, I'm not a big fan of "shock-itecture" like this. However, despite my preconceived notions, I found myself strangely beguiled by this building.
The entire building has the feel of an origami sculpture that you can enter and explore at will. The museum's envelope is largely made of pleated stainless steel, with areas of glass windows interrupting the structure's planes at intervals. The pleated grid lines continue off the main structure into radiating concrete rays in the landscape around the building that have lights embedded in the ends.
Inside, more than 70 percent of the 46,000-square-foot facility is dedicated to exhibition space. The galleries are all angled and asymmetrical, with the main gallery opening to the upper floor spaces. It's not a very big building, but its challenging use of space makes it feel bigger than it is.
I must confess that at times the overall angled effect was a bit discombobulating (like entering an Alice in Wonderland world) when trying to view paintings. It seemed like the building was competing with the work exhibited a little too much--a charge often leveled against un-conventional museum designs. It made me feel like perhaps the building would be more suited to a studio work environment than an art museum (I could imagine the amazing ideas one could have working in a space like this). That said, I felt the building was engaging and challenged me to consider its spaces more than most recent non-Wrightian buildings I had visited.
I would recommend anyone interested in progressive architecture to visit this building and draw their own conclusions. Love it or hate it, Zaha Hadid's Broad Art Museum is an intellectually stimulating space that deserves consideration. I'm definitely glad I visited. Find out more information on the museum here and here.
All photos copyright PrairieMod