Saturday, December 1st, 2007

The New Museum of Contemporary Art – JENGA Inspired?


Posted by Becky | View all posts by Becky
2 Comments » | Published in Architecture  |  2 Comments

I am in love with this building. While it seems unique, I can’t help feeling like I’ve seen it before. Perhaps it is similar to an architecture school colleague’s conceptual model. Perhaps it’s because it seems like such a simple idea but is executed so well. I don’t know – does it remind you of any existing structures or sculptures you’ve seen before? Please share in the comments section! I cannot put my finger on it. Perhaps it simply reminds me of playing JENGA? I digress as usual.

When I first saw photographs of this building, I could not help but think of FLW’s NYC Guggenheim Museum (completed in 1959), as it almost has the appearance of stacked circular boxes instead of rectangular boxes. I want to see the two buildings having a conversation. The Gugg is the grandpa and the New is the grandson:

gugg-bw.jpg new-museum.jpg

The Gugg sits on a large base, whereas the New stacks right up from the street. The Gugg is more about horizontal and the New seems more vertical, however, the relationships and obvious demarcations of stories on the New let it emphasize both horizontal and vertical at the same time.  Often it’s a bitch to try and display art in the Gugg; while the New has a variety of different display spaces. Both buildings focus on how one travels through them; the Gugg is a spiraling journey around a large atrium; the New plays with different spatail relationships and ascension (for example, the narrow long staircase and going from a compressed space into large open galleries). The contexts are very different; one of the most interesting things about the New is the relationships it has with its neighbors. It’s that exciting new neighbor that everyone is talking about, the neighbor that is easily approachable and open but perhaps somewhat narcissistic.  Some of the buildings are dying to be its friend, unoriginal newcomers will try to copy its unique style and be BFFs, some will ride its coattails to gentrification and others will think it’s obnoxious or slutty and never want to listen to anything it has to say.

The New Museum and its immediate context:


There is a really cool video of the construction at The New Museum’s website right here. There is also a great interactive feature about the building featuring New York Times Architecture Critic Nicolai Ouroussoff right here.

Other notes: The New Museum was designed by architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa. They also designed the Toledo Glass Pavilion, which I told you about here. They are so worth Googling – check them out! A highlight is the Zollverein School. It’s kind of reminiscent of Gehry before he was a starchitect.

Go to the NYTimes feature above and be sure to check out the close up of the exterior aluminum screen facade on the New.

I have to share this photo I found when looking for Gugg pictures.  It’s kind of like a scene out of The Fountainhead:


Gugg picture from, except for the model picture above, which I swiped  here.

New Museum Pictures from Suzanne DeChillo for The New York Times. I cropped it and turned it black and white for easier comparison with the Guggenheim picture, not because I thought I could make it better.

About Becky:
Hi, I'm Becky. I live in Atlanta. Besides acting as the Editorial Director here on Hatch, you can find me talking design over at Houzz. Make me happy — leave a comment!

About Becky

has written 1620 post in this blog.

Hi, I'm Becky. I live in Atlanta. Besides acting as the Editorial Director here on Hatch, you can find me talking design over at Houzz. Make me happy — leave a comment!


Filed under Architecture  |  2 Comments


  1. Hatch: The Design Public ® Blog » Blog Archive » From The Bird’s Nest to the Aerie says:

    September 15th, 2008 at 7:10 am (#)

    […] It’s also even way more JENGA-esque than this building. […]

  2. Hatch: The Design Public ® Blog » Blog Archive » STACKED! says:

    March 4th, 2009 at 10:40 am (#)

    […] The New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York City. And this glass box madness: […]

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