Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

Simplicity, openness, calm as well as the interplay between transparency and unity – these are the key elements of the design. Either you enter the building from Michigan Avenue and look directly through the building’s axis toward the lake; or you approach from the opposite side, from the sculpture garden, and look through the axis towards the Water Tower and Michigan Avenue – thus the building is transparent. But as soon as one enters the exhibition spaces, one is detached from them, enclosed, isolated with the art. It is important to conceive exhibition spaces in which nothing but art itself captivates the viewer.

… “Buildings are by nature physically limited: by the terrain, by their dimensions, by their walls. (…) Nevertheless, as visually expressive objects in a public urban context, they have the power to rub themselves against these shackles. Chicago’s new museum uses this force. It brings art back into a shell, to the top of the stairs to Parnassus, and undoubtedly flatters the artists as it undermines contemporary art. The staircase is stately, and so is the shell. In its thoughtfulness and flawlessness, Kleihues’ design recalls the Golden Age of Chicago’s architecture”.

Herbert Muschamp, In: The New York Times, 30.06.1996


Address: 220 East Chicago Avenue, Chicago, Ill USA

Architect: Prof. Josef P. Kleihues

Client: Museum of Contemporary Art

Floor space: 13.000 sqm

Construction costs: US$ 45 million

Type of Use: Museum of Contemporary Art

Realization: 1994 – 1996