Architecture Lab

The new MOCA Cleveland will surprise and delight visitors

Let the reactions unfold: Farshid Moussavi's darkly elegant Museum of Contemporary Art is an iconic new presence in Cleveland -- and one destined to evoke sharply differing responses.
The new MOCA Cleveland will surprise and delight visitors

Despite the new Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland’s monumental shape, which resembles a pyramid from some angles, architect Farshid Moussavi said she was not interested in designing the building to resemble a static, unchanging monument. // photo by Gus Chan, The Plain Dealer

To New York artist David Altmejd, who just completed a large installation in a second-floor gallery, the museum’s architecture “is really hard to grasp. It’s very simple, very pure, but it sort of makes me lose my sense of orientation.”
For donor Donna Kohl, the new MOCA is “this dark, shiny, sexy thing that’s somewhat dangerous. You’ll go in not knowing what’s going to happen to you. Good architecture should make you pause; great architecture should take your breath away.”

Moussavi’s concept is relatively easy to grasp. It’s that of a geometric form that rises from a six-sided base to a four-sided top, producing eight facades shaped like triangles or trapezoids that are either plumb or tilt this way or that as they rise.

Yet because the building is sheathed primarily in panels of reflective black stainless steel, it has a weightless, evanescent quality. It unfolds through time, like a series of Claude Monet grain-stack paintings, in which each canvas recorded the look of a very simple motif as it was transformed by changing conditions of light.

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