The location of the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at the northern edge of the Michigan State University campus is influenced by a set of movements along and across it.
The vital street life on the northern side of Grand River Avenue and the historic heart of the university campus at the south side generate a network of path and visual connections, some of them part of the current footpath layout, others as shortcuts between the city and the campus side of Grand River Avenue. This highly frequented interface between city and campus gets an additional layer by the traffic along Grand River Avenue in east-west-direction, the main road of East Lansing and the main approach street to the campus entrances east and west of the site.
The building is achieved by folding these different circulation and visual connections to create an ‘urban carpet’ which brings together and negotiates the different pathways on which people move through and around the site. In all our work, we first investigate and research landscape, topography and circulation, to ascertain and understand critical lines of connection. By extending these lines to form our design, the building is truly embedded into its surroundings.
The Broad Museum presents as a sharp, directed body, comprising directional pleats which reflect the topographic and circulatory characteristics of its surrounding landscape. Its outer skin echoes these different directions and orientations giving the building an ever-changing appearance on passing, creating great curiosity yet never quite revealing its content. This open character underlines the museum’s function as a cultural hub for the community.