Shigeru Ban's New Aspen Art Museum Previews at Gersh Agency
Aspen is getting a new art museum this summer and Hollywood got its first look Wednesday over lunch at the Gersh Agency in Beverly Hills. Renowned architect Shigeru Ban and museum director Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson presented a scale model and plans for the new Aspen Art Museum in Colorado over a lunch hosted by museum trustee and Gersh Agency co-president, Bob Gersh.
“I’m so happy to have the chance to finish my first museum in the United States,” Ban told members of the press and museum staffers. Noted for his eco-friendly designs, the Japanese-born architect famously used cardboard tubes to prop up temporary structures for earthquake victims in the 1995 Hanshin quake and for disaster relief in Rwanda, Haiti, Fukushima and other places around world.
His buildings include the Pompidou Centre in Metz, as well as the Nomadic Museum, a traveling venue housing photographer Gregory Colbert’s exhibit, Ashes and Snow, which appeared on the beach in Santa Monica back in 2006.
A long-time art collector, Gersh and wife, Linda, hosted the event. He has visited the site several times over the past few months as the building nears completion. “It’s really exciting,” Gersh told The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s such a unique structure, a real gift to the people of Aspen.”
Construction began in 2012 with the museum set to open for the public August 9. Privately funded at $70 million, (including a $20 million endowment), the four-story structure in the heart of downtown will offer 33,000 square feet for art lovers, five times the current museum’s space.
Unlike earlier Ban works, there won’t be any cardboard tubing used in the organizing structure, only in design features such as stairway 5, which has an undulating paper tube ceiling. The interior face of the gift shop features a circular pattern created from the ends of cardboard tubes, and there are paper benches in the lobby.
The exterior of the glass structure is veiled in a paper-based faux-wood called Prodema, which casts an array of geometric patterns in the museum’s entranceway, grand staircase and lobby areas. A series of skylights and transparent partitions will allow daylight to penetrate all the way to the ground floor, illuminating much of the gallery space in natural light.
Inaugural exhibitions will include shows by Yves Klein and David Hammonds, a show on Ban’s humanitarian architecture, an outdoor installation by Jim Hodges, (eight-foot letters spelling out “With Liberty And Justice For All”), drawings by Tomma Abts and ceramics by Rosemarie Trockel. On the roof garden with the ski resort as a backdrop, explosives artist Cai Guo-Qiang, known for creating unique fireworks, will present works conjuring black lightning and snow, as well as a garden featuring tortoises with iPads on their backs displaying recordings of their wanderings.
Ban has bigger projects in the works, such as a residential tower made of timber in Hamburg and the Swatch Headquarters/Omega Production Center in Switzerland, which features a massive wooden tunnel, but the Aspen Art Museum is his first major commission in the U.S.
“I’m sure this is going to be a great step forward for my career as an architect,” he humbly told the gathering.