Nasher Museum of Art
Architect: Raphael Vinoly (New York City, NY)
Duke University’s commitment to the arts was confirmed in 1997 with committee reports to President Keohane and the Trustees. In 1998, a program was approved and by 2002 we completed the design for a 60,000 square foot project located between Campus Drive and Duke University Road off Anderson Street. The building, designed by Raphael Vinoly, has five pavilions in buff colored precast and an 11,000 square foot glass covered courtyard, lobby, and gallery space as its centerpiece. Educational space is within the building including a 175- seat auditorium and two classrooms. A café and small store will support the museum’s outreach activities. The museum was opened to the public in 2005.
Architect Raphael Vinoly on the design of the building:
The design dynamically embraces the surrounding landscape, heightening the relationship between the building and its location, and reinforcing the concept of the museum not as an object within the landscape but rather as "platonic boxes." Positioned in a loose radial pattern near the top of a gentle slope that characterizes the site, their placement defines an irregular, pentagonal central courtyard. Covered by a light canopy of glass and steel, this dramatic central area serves as the museum's lobby and sculpture gallery, and is a hub for a variety of university and community activities.
Each of the pavilions houses a specific component of the building program. One is designed as gallery space for the permanent collection; two are for the display of temporary exhibitions; another houses an auditorium for classes and community use; and one contains classrooms, a café and administrative offices. The pavilions, monolithic forms with limited fenestration, are made of humble materials in earth tones that refer to the "Duke Stone," a warm, locally quarried stone commonly used in the older buildings on campus.
Allowing for a seamless transition from the surrounding gardens to the interior of the building, the atrium offers views to the outside through full-height glass openings between the pavilions. To further blur the division between interior and exterior, the floor surface of the lobby extends beyond its perimeter to define the exterior entry terraces and an independent terrace for the café. Natural vegetation from the exterior enters the building through a series of planters positioned under the glass roof of the courtyard. Visitors are meant to move from one pavilion to the next as though through an architecturally abstracted version of the natural landscape.