Lightfall: Herta & Paul Amir Building, Tel Aviv Museum of Art

Lightfall is not only an exhibition design and a presentation of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art’s new Amir Building. It is an architectural intervention in the Harvard Graduate School of Design that embodies the deeply interiorized concept of the Amir Building’s “Lightfall,” an 87-foot-tall spiraling atrium, by inserting a model of it in what appears to be a space that exceeds the limit of the Gund Hall Gallery. The exhibition explores the relationship between pedagogy and practice by including spatial concepts that many GSD students will remember from three foundational projects in the first-year core curriculum of architecture: the “Hidden Room,” the “Lodged House,” and the “Lock Building.”

Located at the center of Tel Aviv’s cultural complex, the Amir Building posed an extraordinary architectural challenge: to resolve the tension between the tight, idiosyncratic triangular site and the museum’s need for a series of large, neutral rectangular galleries. The solution: the twisting geometric surfaces of the Lightfall that connect the disparate angles between the galleries and the context while refracting natural light into the deepest recesses of the half-buried building.

ex_gund_lightfall_012312_knight_102The Amir Building embodies the tension between two prevailing models: the museum of neutral white boxes that allow for maximum curatorial freedom and the museum of architectural specificity that intensifies the experience of public spectacle. An antidote to the Bilbao phenomenon, the Amir building signals a new synthesis: deeply interiorized and socially choreographed space, as opposed to the tendency in the 1990s to display the museum as a sculptural object to the city. The complexity of the public spaces and richness of materials—including pre-cast and poured-in-place concrete, stone, wood, and glass—foster the production of site-specific interventions. On display currently are works by Michal Rovner, Anselm Kiefer, and Locomotion.