Shigeru Ban’s new Aspen Art Museum

Place: Aspen, CO, Country: United States
Client: Aspen Art Museum
Architectural design:
Shigeru Ban Architects
Text by Riccardo Bianchini, Inexhibit
Photos courtesy of Aspen Art Museum
See caption for photo credits

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The new Aspen Art Museum designed by Shigeru Ban with Jim Hodges’ installation With Liberty and Justice For All (A Work in Progress). Photo © Peter Feinzig 

Shigeru Ban’s new Aspen Art Museum
by Riccardo Bianchini, Inexhibit

On Summer 2014 the Aspen Art Museum, one of the most interesting art institutions in the USA, opened its new home in Aspen, Colorado.

The Aspen Art Museum was founded in 1979 as a non-collecting institution aimed to presents and promote the newest and most advanced international contemporary art tendencies.
In 2007, since the old spaces have become insufficient due to the increasing success, the AAM board took the decision to create a new home for the museum and selected Japanese architect Shigeru Ban to accomplish the task of designing its building.

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photos © Michael Moran/OTTO 

Aspen Art Museum Shigeru Ban axonometric drawing

Axonometric view

Shigeru Ban, along with being one of the most interesting contemporary architects, and the 2014 Pritzker Prize winner, is also renowned for his research on lightweight building materials like paper and wood as well as for his exemplary commitment in humanitarian architecture and disaster relief structures design.

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The exhibition “Shigeru Ban: Humanitarian Architecture“ featured at the Aspen Art Museum in 2014. photo © Michael Moran/OTTO 

For the new AAM home, Ban designed a building apparently very simple in its shape while actually extremely profound in its essence.
The museum architecture is indeed based on a careful planned arrangement of transparent and semi-transparent layers, beginning from the woven envelope, that creates a diverse and fascinating set of views toward the museum interior from the outside and toward the spectacular surrounding mountain environment from the inside.

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Photos © Michael Moran/OTTO

The AAM parallelepiped, containing the reception area, exhibition galleries, an education space, a shop, a cafe, an on-site artist apartment, as well as service, storage and preparation spaces, is based on the combination of five main elements.

The Grand Staircase and the “Moving Room” elevator, along with being the main connections between the various building levels, are also spaces where the interaction between the different transparencies of the vertical layers provide the visitor a unique visual experience of both the building and its surrounding.

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photos © Michael Moran/OTTO 

The Wooden Roof Structure, with its articulated morphology creates a sort of “interlayer” between the upper level and the exterior through which natural light softly enter the building from its top.

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Photos © Michael Moran/OTTO

The Wooden Screen is perhaps the signature of the building, it is a woven envelope filtering the sunlight coming from the outside and made of Prodema, a composite material made of paper and resin and coated with natural wood veneer. The interaction between the screen and the natural light creates impressive shade patterns in the building public spaces.



photos © Billy Farrell/

The “Walkable” Skylights. A roof deck and a rooftop sculpture garden further increase the visual relationship between the museum and its surrounding, the terrace is also equipped with skylights that provide natural lighting to the exhibition gallery underneath.


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top; photo © Derek Skalko
middle and bottom: photos © Michael Moran/OTTO

All images courtesy of Aspen Art Museum

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Aspen Art Museum | Aspen, CO
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The Aspen Art Museum is a non-collecting museum in Aspen, Colorado, devoted to the promotion of international contemporary artists and to art education

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