Experiencing Great Architecture and Creative Built Environments

Coop Himmelb(l)au

Akron Museum of Art Knight Building Addition (2007)

Coop Himmelb(l)au, Architect

One South High, Akron, OH 44308

Map and Aerial View

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Visited May 31-June 1, 2011

The Knight Building Addition was the focus of my last roadtrip, and it did not disappoint. I had seen a few photographs on line and wanted to experience it for myself.

The dynamic composition is composed of 3 main elements- the angled glass entry “Crystal”, the cantilevered roof “Clouds”, and the rectangular “Gallery Box”. All of this is placed in the 1899 original Museum Building’s back yard. The link to the original building is a main level glass connection in the middle of the rear facade, the top of which aligns with an existing stone sill band. The angled glass framework of the “Crystal” has a chevron shaped edge which keeps its distance around the eave of the original building.

Driving up the hill on Market Street, one of the  cantilevered “Clouds” dramatically hovers over the original museum- in fact beyond the building, over the sidewalk and a portion of the street to announce the presence of the addition behind.

What I was curious about was how were the galleries handled in the addition. Was this attention-getting concoction just a folly? Was is designed to showcase and display Akron’s artwork treasures, or just to display itself and promote Coop Himelb(l)au? I am pleased to report that the galleries displayed a pretty impressive collection of artwork very well indeed. The architect’s flair for the dramatic stopped at the tall glass gallery doors, and once inside the artwork was the star. After wandering by Warhol’s Single Elvis and Brillo Boxes; and Chuck Close’s Linda,  I ventured into the M.C. Escher temporary exhibit. I was impressed with the incredible detail in Escher’s original lithographs and wood cuts, which is lost in the ubiquitous monographs on the sale shelf at the Border’s and Barnes & Noble stores. I clearly remembered the artwork.  The gallery did what a gallery should do – displayed the artwork. Well Done.