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A Museum Addition at Kansas State U., Cast in Concrete, Lets in Spirits

Beach Museum
Kansas State U.‘s Beach Museum of Art, designed by Andersson-Wise Architects (Photographs courtesy of Andersson-Wise Architects)

Andersson-Wise Archtiects of Austin, Tex., recently finished an addition to the Beach Museum of Art at Kansas State University. For Arthur Andersson, the addition was an opportunity to add to his original design for the museum, which had been completed in 1996.

gallery

A gallery with the “spirit window”

The museum called for a design with pitched roofs and local limestone walls.
The addition incorporates a good deal of concrete in curving and angular shapes that guide visitors into the museum. The impressions from the form ties are still evident in the walls. Mr. Andersson says he likes the simple aesthetic and the unparalleled durability of concrete. The 17,000-square-foot addition cost $6.5-million, all of which came from private donations.

For someone who likes working with natural light, designing the gallery space was a bit constraining, Mr. Andersson says. The clients wanted no windows in the gallery areas, to control light — particularly damaging ultra-violet light — that could hit the artwork.

He complied with the design constraints, for the most part. In one gallery, Mr. Andersson added what he calls a “spirit window” — a tiny window in one corner of the gallery. It’s a reference to the “spirit line,” or gap, that Navajo weavers put in the borders of their rugs to allow spirits to pass through. —Scott Carlson

Beach Museum

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