NEW YORK, NY 10036

TEL (1) 917 270 0614
Rubin Museum of Art
New York, NY
Size: 60,000sf
Program: Facade design, public lobbies and other interiors, reception, seven floors of permanent galleries
Cost: $30,000,000
Role: Celia Imrey, design and managing principal - Imrey Culbert

Copyright © Imrey Culbert LP
All Rights Reserved

The Client demanded nothing less than the transformation of the former Barney’s department store into 7 floors of gallery spaces for its extensive collection of Himalayan Art. The collection, never displayed to the public prior to the creation of the Museum, had been hanging on the backs of the modular office furniture of the client, amid telemarketers and florescent lights.

More than anything else, our role, as Associate Museum Designers, was to provide a new institutional and architectural identity for what was previously a private collection.

Starting with the façade, a triple-height stepping void that foreshadows the space of the spiral stair within, we created the architecture and material palettes for almost all the public areas of this museum, coordinating with the engineers for the mechanical, electrical and other systems we designed. The façade is also an echo of a dominant structure within the art: the depiction of a primary deity flanked by smaller, supporting deities in a triptych composition.

The design challenge of the galleries was to undo the retail typology of the spaces. We developed a system of wall typologies based on the Tibetan Mandala, partially isolating the dominant spiral stair and creating needed wall space, thus encouraging the visitor to linger.

We as developed a distinctive feature for the Rubin Museum of Art: its color palette. Taking a Benjamin Moore color wheel to the offices prior to construction, we matched the rich colors of the paintings and provided the RMA with a template for color selection. The deep colors of the walls are all evocative of the colors within the art, thus embedding the works within their “new “home. In addition to designing the façade plus all floors of galleries, casework and lighting design, with Tillotson Design Associates, we designed the museum's second floor expansion and daylit galleries, the public entrance, the foyer and the multipurpose room.

Links to Web Content:
The New York Times / Wikipedia / Triposo / New York Daily Photo