photo credit: blogs.artinfo.com
When my friend drove me by the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum in East Lansing I was amazed with the futuristic exterior. The big silver glob didn’t appear to have windows. Actually it looked to me like a Frank Gehry building with pleats. The pleats seem to echo the different orientations and directions of the streets around them, giving the building an ever changing appearance and the feeling of being on the move.
Images of Mariano Fortuny or IIssey Miyake came to mind–fashion icons who specialized in pleats. All the surfaces are flat but they dart thither and thither….tilting and thrusting….feel distorted. Resting on the edge of the Michigan State campus, it is only the second US project by award wining STARCHITECT Zaha Hadid.
The large “glob” of pleated steel looked strange in the middle of traditional Collegiate Gothic brick campus buildings and small shops and fast food restaurants that ring the campus.
One person on Trip Advisor described it this way, “Ugliest building on campus, looks like a collapse pair of Venetian blinds destroyed by a cat. Another Trip Advisor contributor said looks like a “tornado hit a venetian blind factory built in a quonset hut.”
I loved it and glad that Michigan State was gutsy enough to do something “ out there.” Good for you, Spartans.
But the real surprise was going inside and realizing that many of those metallic pleats were cleverly disguised windows admitting filtered light. The space was flooded with natural light, actually quite bright on a gray Michigan day.
I was told there are no right angles and I believe it. I found the architecture as interesting if not more than the art work. A bit distracting actually. Some might say the interior is the ultimate sobriety test. Don’t go there if you are prone to vertigo. The floors are level, but very little else is.
I did see some interesting art ranging from large video, small video, very long pen and ink installation and a work station billed as art. I loved a ceramics exhibit and stopped to study the Chinese description of the importance and placement of hand gestures.
The black floating staircase with hidden lighting and sleek silver railings caught my attention as did the views from the angular windows. The area by the elevator is also a work of art.
It certainly increases Lansing’s Cultural Clout. My sense is that people really love it or hate it. Take the comment on TripAdvisor, “If this is art then I’m Donald Duck.” Made me laugh. But mostly anything modern or new will generate comments like that. It’s futuristic. Even the Executive Director thinks so.
“It’s like a spaceship has landed,” says Museum Director, Michael Rush.
The Museum is named for Los Angeles based art Collectors Eli and Edythe Broad, lead donors on the $40 million project. The museum web site is: broadmuseum.msu.edu