Queens Museum of Art Proposal
In January 2002 Eric Owen Moss Architects won first place in a design competition for the expansion of the Queens Museum of Art. The Queens Museum of Art (QMA) is located in Flushing Meadows Corona Park and currently occupies half of the New York City Building; the only surviving structure from both the 1939 and 1964 World's Fairs, and is the home of the Panorama of The City of New York, the world's largest architectural model. The other half of the building housed a skating rink. The museum was planned to expand to incorporate this space, effectively doubling its size from 45,000 to approximately 100,000 square feet. Eric Owen Moss Architects' design, however, has since been rejected in favour of one by Grimshaw Architects.

The initial design gesture was surgical - the center portion of the building removed - roof, perimeter walls, and first and second level circulation, exposing the Panorama enclosure as a primary solid. Steel roof trusses remain and a re-enclosed central volume surrounding the Panorama becomes the spatial main event for public promenade, art display, music performance, dramatic presentation, and as yet unnamed art of all sorts.

The Main Event space was to be open and flexible. The original floor would be removed and the earth excavated, leaving a bowl, gently sloping toward a theoretical center at the base of the Panorama. Temporary seating, oriented toward the Panorama, could be placed within the bowl - an (almost) theatre in the round. Exhibits could be mounted variously over the sloping surface - “stages” within the “theatre” - or hung from the trusses above.

Connected to the Main Event space by a carefully orchestrated promenade were the bookstore and café, the Panorama, the World’s Fair and Tiffany’s permanent collections, and the temporary gallery spaces. A public circulation ramp climbed the exterior wall of the Panorama enabling views of the Main Event from above. From the second floor, a second ramp up the face of the Panorama provided access to a glazed, multi-purpose exhibition, performance or meeting space with views down into the Panorama exhibit, the Main Event, and the surrounding site. Screen(s) could be attached to the ramps so that film or video may be viewed in the space or projected through the glass to the park outside.

Unique among the temporary galleries is the double-height multipurpose space that allows a variety of changing exhibits to be installed. For the largest exhibits and performances, the main space and gallery could be used contiguously by opening the five vertical lift glass doors that divide the space. Individual exhibits or performances could be segregated in countless ways through the use of flexible and moving partitions. Spanning the double-height and Main Event spaces were two catwalks, facilitating objects hanging, projection and lighting.

Ongoing exhibits or performances could be viewed by the public in transit, which would be encouraged to pass through the Magic Mountain and Main Event space on the way to the zoo, the park, Shea Stadium, or U.S.T.A. National Tennis Stadium. Pedestrian circulation on the site was redirected from the Beaux Arts axis, affording the option to pass by the perimeter of the Main Event space, viewing the exhibits without actually entering the galleries. The intent of this organizational gesture (“short-cut”) was to expose the broader public to contemporary art.

The earth excavated from the bowl was to be reused to form a linear mountain, creating a presence along the Grand Central Parkway. The west end of the Main Event’s grass bowl extended, becoming a sculpture garden to be viewed both from the Parkway and the Museum. Taking full advantage of the Magic Mountain, Museum storage was placed within the mountain, underneath the sculpture garden. The grass embankment provided informal seating or gathering around an exterior exhibit/performance area.

A laminated glass “drape” re-enclosed the Main Event area. The glass was to be transparent, translucent, or opaque by turn depending on the exhibits inside. Glass color would have been controlled by low voltage wires, which altered the glass from clear to opaque milk white. Water from the drape drained to the two reflecting pools on either side of the east entrance.


6 photos and 11 drawings

Building Activity

  • harriz
    harriz commented
    I never get tired of seeing the NYC model. Replication of every building in the 5 boroughs. Breathtaking! Should be seen at least once by every New Yorker and visitor to New York.
    about 6 years ago via iPhone