ruminations about architecture and design

Saturday, February 5, 2011

thoughts on the renovated mfa

This is a plan of the Altes museum by K.F. Schinkel. It is a masterpiece of circulation, and presumably provides flexibility for exhibit planning. I have never been there, however, so my assessment of its attributes may be a bit optimistic. I just got back from the Boston MFA and I can report that its layout, despite the recent renovations by Foster and Partners, retains the same annoyances and inconvenient spaces. The building is a collection of narrow corridors that frequently terminate in dead-end rooms. The layout seems derived from domestic, Colonial architecture and is writ on a scale unsuited for public spaces. Foster, no doubt under a directive not to do anything too bold, keeps this spirit intact in its new addition. Their circulation spaces have more natural light and their exhibit spaces are professionally rendered, but any attempt to create a sense of drama or provide a moment of relief and repose is absent to my eye. The grand cafe space feels like a warehouse with some expensive finishes.

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