Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art

El edificio diseñado por la arquitecta Zaha Hadid para el Lois & Richard Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art, ubicado en el centro cultural y de entretenimiento de la ciudad de Cincinnati (USA), permite adaptar sus espacios de exposición a las distintas configuraciones y escalas requeridas y se ofrece como un espacio dinámico de reunión pública y cívica.

In May 2003, the Contemporary Arts Center will relocate to its first free-standing home, the Lois & Richard Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art, designed by architect Zaha Hadid. The move to this groundbreaking new building marks a milestone for the 64-year-old Center-building upon its history as a pioneering force in contemporary art. The building’s dynamic design will facilitate radical new programming opportunities for the Center, promising an even more engaging experience for the local, regional and international audiences it serves.

Project Description
The Lois & Richard Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art supports the Contemporary Arts Center’s distinct mission as a non-collecting institution dedicated to presenting an ever-changing cycle of temporary exhibitions, site-specific installations and performances. The building’s rich spatial possibilities and the adaptable configurations of the galleries accommodate the unpredictable scale and media of the works of art exhibited. The building also supports the Center’s role as a dynamic public gathering space and civic institution through amenities such as a children’s education facility (the UnMuseum®), art preparation areas, a museum store, a café kiosk, public areas and offices.

The Rosenthal Center is situated at the northwest corner of Walnut Street and East Sixth Street in downtown Cincinnati’s cultural and entertainment area, the Backstage Entertainment District. Located across Walnut Street from the Aronoff Center for the Arts, and serving pedestrian traffic from nearby Fountain Square, the Center is located at the nexus of downtown activity. The glass transparency of the ground floor mingles with the urban surroundings, while the vertical sequence of galleries responds to the site’s compact footprint, maximizing the opportunities for interaction afforded by the Center’s location at the heart of the city’s urban and cultural life.

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Zaha Hadid on the Contemporary Arts Center
The Contemporary Arts Center is a forum for the exchange of ideas and a gathering place for people of all cultures and ages. It presents an ever-changing menu of visual and performing arts that feeds the cultural vitality of Cincinnati. The museum is not defined by a collection and a set approach to art. Rather, it is a changeable site that is open and receptive to the creative diversity of artists from around the globe.
The architecture of the new Contemporary Arts Center building redefines the boundaries between art and life in various ways. The building itself is as original and enigmatic as a piece of abstract or conceptual art. Like a work of art, it has its own strong formal logic. In this case, the formal logic informs the spatial logic of a piece of civic life.
The Center should act as a socializing force in Cincinnati. The building engages with the community, hopefully helping to broaden the audience for contemporary art. It will play an important role in developing local art enthusiasts into an involved community. In addition, the Center is an important civic space-like a public living room-inserted in the heart of downtown. The openness of the ground level and the penetration of light into various parts of the building make the passer-by aware that there is something exciting going on inside. The ground floor surface bends upwards at the back of the building creating a strong continuity with the vertical circulation space cutting through the building. This surface is the «urban carpet» that articulates the public accessibility of the building.
With a system of ramps prominently positioned throughout the building, visitors will be able to see each other moving through the space and interacting with the art. In this way, the architecture facilitates the viewing of art as a collective experience. The stair connects the ground level (the lobby) to the top level (the UnMuseum), facilitating the ease of movement from one part of the space to another.
The fundamental concept is a jigsaw puzzle of diverse exhibition spaces: long, short, broad, or tall spaces, each with different lighting conditions. This concept is expressed in the exterior configuration so that from the outside, you can read the volumes of the building. Inside, each volume is defined by material changes in the ceilings and the floors, so the viewer is constantly aware that the next level will be slightly different. We sought to create as many spaces congregated together as possible to allow greater variety and support the presentation of two or three shows at the same time. Collectively, the space gives a clearly recognizable identity to the Center, ensuring that the experience of viewing art here will be distinct from any other venue.
Rather than presuming that flexibility depends on blandness, the building offers diverse conditions to choose from, each with a particular character. This creates a more engaging experience for the visitor. I believe architecture can be a catalyst for instigating and influencing the process of making, as well as viewing, art. I hope the space will instigate a new sense of possibility.

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