The great state of Ohio, Mother of Presidents, is on the cusp of being able to claim a high-culture hat trick: a contemporary art center with an avant-garde building in each of its three most populous cities. Afterearning the approval of the Cleveland City Planning Commission, the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland has released plans for its new home, designed by London-based firm Foreign Office Architects.
The proposed four-story, 34,000-square-foot building, covered with mirror-finish black Rimex stainless steel, is FOA’s first project in the U.S., and will offer MOCA its first street-level space. The museum, founded as the NewGallery in 1968, is currently located on the second floor of the ClevelandPlay House Complex. If completed, it will join the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, designed by British architect ZahaHadid, and Columbus’s Wexner Center for the Arts, designed by architects PeterEisenman, RichardTrott, and LaurieOlin, in Ohio’s contemporary-art-and-architecture trinity.
The project, which has been tagged with a $26.3 million budget, is part of Cleveland’s new Uptown district, created as part of an urban renewalplan that has been organized by Case Western University, the developer MRN, Ltd., and other groups in the University Circle area of the city. Construction on MOCA's building, which press materialsdescribe as the "flagship" of the district, is set to begin by the end of 2010.
FOA was founded in 1995 by architects AlejandroZaera Polo and FarshidMoussavi. The firm’s credits include the Ravensbourne College ofDesign and Communication, currently under construction in Kent, England; a police headquarters in La Villajoyosa, Spain; and the BlueMoon Hotel in Groningen, the Netherlands.
Moussavi said in a statement that the firm’s design accounted for the fact that museums are "not just homes for art, but serve multiple functions and host a variety of activities." The plans call for a café, ashop, and "double-height multipurpose room." However, art is firmly at the center of the proposal: spaces for exhibitions or public programs have been included on all four floors.