Eli & Edythe Broad Art Museum, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan/US

Project: Eli & Edythe Broad Art Museum, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan/US

Sharp edges, folds, inclined walls – the new Art Museum located on the premises of Michigan State University presents itself as an expressive sculpture with a pleated, stainless steel façade. Designed by the renowned Zaha Hadid Architects Office in London this building has more to offer than a striking exterior. Visitors to the impressive interior with it landscape of differently orchestrated rooms enter a three-storey foyer flooded with a pleasantly soft atmosphere of light made possible by the special execution of the skylight above the Feature Stair area: here the insulating glass panel OKAGEL from OKALUX diffuses the incident lightvenly into the room. Its attractive appearance in both daylight and artificial light blends perfectly in to the sophisticated architecture.

Michigan State University belongs to the largest and most important universities of the USA. The museum, which was built to shelter the extensive art collection of the university and to complement the many existing buildings for research and teaching on the campus was made possible through a donation by US billionaire Eli Broad. The competition was launched in 2007 and won by the office of Pritzker prize winner Zaha Hadid.

Inspired by the topography and site context comprised of an intricate system of paths, footways and visual connections, the architects developed a sharp-edged structure. The outer shell consists of glazed openings and pleated stainless steel panels whose folds and lamellas are oriented in different directions. Thus, the façade mirrors the surrounding network of routes with its many changes of direction making a clear contrast to the neighbouring university buildings in traditional brick.

The lanes and visual axis play an equally important architectural role in the interior of the museum. Zaha Hadid Architects created a variety of rooms which open up a large variation of design possibilities for the curators for permanent and temporary exhibitions. The building offers nearly 4,300 square meters for the display of artwork.

Visitors enter the building either from the west or the east entrance. The light infused volume containing the Feature Stair connects all levels of the museum. The architects paid special attention to the execution of the glazed skylight the demands on which were not only the even diffusion of the incident light but the high insulation values of the glazing. An elegant appearance was also essential. The high performance insulating glass OKAGEL from OKALUX achieved these performance and aesthetic objectives. This glazing has a silica aerogel in the cavity which has extraordinary physical properties: the innovative material diffuses daylight evenly into the room. In addition, it has high heat and noise insulating properties. The lattice structure of the aerogels also prevents convection in the cavity – thus OKAGEL achieves consistently good heat insulation values, even in overhead glazing. Due to these properties, OKAGEL is especially well suited for use in buildings, in which the priority lies on optimal daylight conditions, energy efficiency and a high degree of user comfort – and the attractive appearance of the translucent panels fits excellently to a modern, high quality architectural language.

The Eli & Edythe Broad Art Museum opened its doors in November 2012. Since then, its visitors have been able to enjoy the variety of art as well as to explore the spectacular architecture with its exciting variations on room and light situations.