A new art museum has come to the north metro area, serving as a permanent home for the growing collections of Kennesaw State University. On Saturday, KSU will host a grand opening for the Bernard A. Zuckerman Museum of Art at the heart of its Cobb County campus.
The museum, designed by local firm Stanley Beaman & Sears (SBS), consolidates collections now spread across campus into a purpose-built facility. In addition to gallery space for the permanent collection and temporary exhibitions, the building contains collection storage and support facilities.
The Zuckerman Museum of Art is the newest addition to the burgeoning arts district at KSU. Sited along a prominent pedestrian and vehicular axis stretching between student residences, the main dining hall and academic buildings, the museum is intended to “be a strong addition to the cultural fabric of the community,” says director Justin Rabideau. He envisions the museum as a resource to serve greater Atlanta.
With community outreach a primary goal, Betsy Beaman, AIA, a principal of SBS, stated that the architects conceived the building to stand out from the predominantly red-and-beige brick buildings which compose the campus. In that goal, the museum is a resounding success.
Although the 9,200-square-foot building slips into the side of a hill crowned by the much larger mass of the Bailey Performance Center, the museum immediately asserts itself with its striking bold black and glossy white façade. A two-story glass atrium highlighting the public circulation space and entrance stands at the corner of the building, addressing the parking lot and pedestrian path. The entrance is marked by an unobtrusive, appropriately scaled awning created by a subtle outward cant of the upper portion of the façade.
The exterior materials indicate the function of the straightforward interior spatial arrangement. Most of the façade at ground level is composed of black concrete block, lending a sense of stability and rigidity to the edifice, appropriately enwrapping the storage and support spaces. The second floor, which contains the gallery space, is veiled in light white metal panels, providing excellent contrast to the heavy massing below. The parapet is crennelated in a pattern based on the Fibonacci sequence. Adding a layer of texture, the design move pays homage to the importance of the mathematical phenomena in nature, visual art and music.
Inside, the highlight of the building is the light-filled second floor gathering space, which connects the
entry stair to the Bailey Performance Center. Light filters through frosted glazing on the east side of the building, while across a terrace to the west, patrons catch a glimpse of Kennesaw Mountain. The space will be used for visual art exhibits as well as performance art pieces; Rabideau envisions it as a “laboratory” for all art forms. In expectation of further growth, the space is situated to become the central lobby space between two wings of an expanded museum.
The single gallery space adjoins the “laboratory.” It is a large room painted a light gray with polished concrete floors and a ceiling of exposed systems: an understated space designed so that the focus is decidedly on the art. For the opening exhibition, Seeing Through Walls, the space is divided by semipermanent partitions. The deep-blue perimeter walls feature works from the collection, hung salon-style.
Stanley Beaman & Sears contributed a piece to Seeing Through Walls. Prominently on display in the lobby above the staircase, it pays homage to the capabilities of CAD programs used in the design of the museum.
It is the hope of the staff that the museum will invite casual encounters with art as well as “serious” visits. To that end, sculptures placed on the patio and front lawn extend the museum into public spaces. At night the atrium glows with light, serving to announce the building’s presence and beckon passersby.
The Zuckerman Museum was built to be an iconic addition to the KSU campus. A commitment to sharing a wide array of art is palpable in the structure. It is well worth a visit.
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