After we completed a successful first addition in 1996 along with the continued growth of Phoenix, our studio was asked to rethink and strategize the museum site. This second addition, completed ten years later, provides a new wing with over 20,000 SF of column-free gallery space and a new 10,000 SF entry pavilion oriented towards a landscaped court and visitor parking.
A sandblasted concrete wall shields the serene, Palo Verde tree-shaded entry court from the surrounding traffic. A curtain of water drops from a large fountain into a granite pool, giving the sound and sense of coolness. Visitors pass the fountain as they approach the forty-foot cantilever of the new entrance canopy that creates a great shaded outdoor room.
Fifteen-foot tall glass panels create a seamless transition between outdoor and indoor spaces. At night, a constellation of ceiling fixtures in the lobby creates a festive atmosphere for museum parties.
Passage to the existing museum occurs through a dramatic twenty-six-foot high narrow space. The sculpted ceiling reflects soft light from a clerestory above. In the new gallery wing, a skylight, forty-five feet high, casts changing light onto the ceiling surface. A sculptural concrete and stone stair and a vertical mast of sandblasted concrete enclosing the elevator, rise through the space to connect four levels of galleries. On the top floor, a small cantilevered room extending from the corner of the museum provides a respite with a view toward the mountains of Phoenix.
The gallery wing uses locally fabricated pre-cast concrete panels both as structure and for exposed architectural surfaces. Green glacier quartz, used as an aggregate in the first renovation, was used in smaller aggregate size in a dark concrete mix. A tectonic relationship with the earlier structure is maintained while the building still declares a new identity. The new Phoenix Art Museum is a series of interior experiences with art, enlivened by occasional visual connections to the landscape.