Contemporary Arts Center --page 1 (of three pages)

Zaha Hadid

In 1998 the Iraqi-born, London-based woman architect Zaha Hadid won the competition for the new Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, an 85,000 square foot building housing temporary exhibits of contemporary art. (The museum has no permanent collection.) Although Hadid was respected as a paper architect, she had few actual commissions to her credit until CAC, and remarkably, she is the first woman architect to design a major museum in the United States. Her style is often described as Deconstructivist, seen especially in the stacked layers comprising the building, one section even in matt black aluminum panels, which contrasts with the white concrete of most of the structure.

The corner site

The restricted urban site, across the street from the Aronoff Center for the Arts by Cesar Pelli, demanded a corner building, made more interesting by the floating volumes and the glass wrapped around the front. Galleries are stacked four floors high with offices on the south side indicated by the blue glass curtain wall.

The east side

A tall atrium provides light in the center of the building with stairs/ramps forming a spine upward.

The urban carpet

Hadid has explained that her vision was non-elitist. Thus, she wanted the lobby area of the museum to serve as a kind of public square. Visually, this point is made through the "urban carpet": the sidewalk is pulled into the building and rises to become the back wall--providing a continuity between the outside and the inside.

Continue to page 2.

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