Modern Museum Begins Campus-Wide Art Installation

March 1, 2008
Overland Park, KS - Kyu Sung Woo Architects, an internatfional architectural practice headquartered in Cambridge, MA, has designed the new Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art in Overland Park, KS. The museum, home to a significant collection of contemporary artists including Dana Schutz, Kehinde Wiley, Uta Barth, Kerry James Marshall, and Do-Ho Suh, will bring an exciting new presence to the campus of Johnson County Community College and will serve as the starting point of a campus-wide art installation program.

"It was a wonderful opportunity to develop this museum in the suburban Midwest," says Kyu Sung Woo, principal. "This community college has an exceptional collection of outdoor sculpture and other contemporary art located throughout its campus that creates a daily experience of art for its students. This inspired the direction for the building as we began to think of the museum not as a repository for art, but as the start of a longer journey of art on campus."

Kyu Sung Woos contemporary, minimalist building makes a strong statement. This limestone clad and glass enclosed modern structure signals a new entrance to the campus and connects the school to the community. The museum entrance faces outward toward the main streets and a 1.5-acre front lawn leads to the campus, an impressive site for future acquisitions. A dramatic 22-foot cantilever of the main gallery space above the entrance is enhanced by an exterior installation by artist Leo Villareal. His stunning LED display extends the lantern-like effect of the glass façade and supports the connection to the landscape established by the building.

The glass-enclosed lobby runs along one side of the museum front, providing a broad view of its interior from afar and giving a constant sense of activity within. Retaining walls, extending into the landscape, further define the exterior garden, enforce the connection of building to land, and help form the visitors path. The exterior treatment reflects local materials and context; the selection of limestone for the cladding was in part inspired when excavation revealed this to be the naturally occurring subsurface rock on the site.

The interior provides flexible exhibition space for permanent and temporary shows, as well as educational and social spaces that further connect the museum to campus activity. In the museum, art and architecture are experienced together as a part of daily life. Daylight is drawn into the building along its perimeter with clerestory skylights that bring light down to wash the walls, creating an association with the outside, a sense of openness, and a connection to the passing of time as the quality of light shifts. A double-height atrium wrapped with perforated metal to filter and soften light joins the museum to an adjacent technology center and integrates the museum into campus life.

The museum establishes a new identity for this 234-acre suburban Kansas City campus. Located within the traditional Midwestern mile-square grid, Johnson County Community College is home to a renowned and notable collection of contemporary art that students encounter throughout their day-to-day lives, from walking to class to taking meals at the dining halls. Rather than compete with the large campus, Kyu Sung Woo found the opportunity for this new building to become a catalyst for a new experience of the site: the start of an art-walk and the entryway to a journey of art on campus.

The buildings programming includes:

11,000 square feet of exhibition space
5,400 square feet of academic spaces
200 seat auditorium
2,400 square foot caf
3,000 square foot atrium connecting the museum to an adjacent technology center
3,700 square feet of art storage

The architect of record on the project is Gould Evans Associates.

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