The new “Torre” of the Fondazione Prada Milan by Rem Koolhaas / OMA
Client: Fondazione Prada
Local Architects: Atelier Verticale; Structural engineering: Favero&Milan
The “Torre” building of the Fondazione Prada in Milan, north and east facades; photo © Inexhibit
The new “Torre” tower of the Fondazione Prada Milan by Rem Koolhaas / OMA
Inaugurated on April 20, 2018, the Torre is the latest addition to the Prada Foundation complex in Largo Isarco, Milan.
An ambitious, 60-meter / 197-foot high building, the new tower designed by Rem Koolhaas / OMA accommodates six large exhibition spaces, a restaurant, a bar, and a panoramic roof terrace stacked on one another on nine levels.
Externally, the tower is a white concrete clad volume marked by a sequence of large strip windows, a panoramic glass elevator, and a huge strut which connects the tower with the adjacent Deposito building.
Overall, the visual effect is impressive, the Torre’s immaculate shape emerges amid the lower buildings of the Fondazione Prada complex, creating an interplay with them and especially with the “Haunted House”, the iconic gold-leaf-clad five-story building located near the complex main entrance. From the outside, the tower is surely bold and makes a strong impression within the context; yet, I also find its exterior a bit dull, compared to that of other buildings by Koolhaas, and certainly not as good as its interior.
The east facade of the white concrete “Torre”, view from the Fondazione Prada complex; photo © Inexhibit
Encompassing a total floor area of about 2,000 square meters (21,500 square feet), internally the Torre is a true “exhibition machine” featuring a collection of different galleries into which a diverse set of artworks ideally fit.
The six exhibition rooms have two different floor plans – either rectangular or trapezoid – with three different exposures, at the same time their ceiling height increases from 2,4 meters to 8 meters from bottom to top, thus providing diversified exhibition conditions for different types of artwork, from small paintings to large-size installations.
As already seen in other projects by Koolhaas, the interiors present a combination of cheap industrial materials and construction elements – such as Orientated Strand Board (OSB) wood panels, and galvanizes steel meshes – and opulent ones, including gold leaf and pink onyx, with a slightly weird yet intriguing effect, overall.
Another interesting aspect of OMA’ s design is the truly exceptional visual relationship between the artworks on view in the galleries and urban landscape around the tower is capable to forward, thanks mostly to the huge glazed openings which constitute an entire side, sometimes even two, of each of the six exhibition spaces. The upper gallery on the eight floor is the only one provided with zenithal natural illumination.
The restaurant-bar located on the sixth floor of the tower is also an interesting space; opening onto a panoramic terrace, it features a number of original pieces of furniture from the Four Seasons Restaurant in New York designed by Philip Johnson in 1958, as well as works by Lucio Fontana, John Wesley, Jeff Koons, John Baldessari, and Mariko Mori, among others.
The 2nd-floor gallery, on the right: Jeff Koons, Tulips 1995-2004; photo © Inexhibit
Plan of the second floor; image courtesy of OMA
Artworks on view – the Atlas exhibition
The Torre opened with a special exhibition, entitled “Atlas”, spanning all six galleries. The exhibition presents forty-six pieces from the Prada foundation’s collection of contemporary art and features paintings, sculptures, and installations by Carla Accardi, Jeff Koons, Walter De Maria, Edward Kienholz, Mona Hartoum, Pino Pascali, Michael Heizer, Damien Hirst, William Copley, John Baldessari, and Carsten Holler.
The 3rd-floor gallery; foreground: Walter De Maria, Bel Air Trilogy (detail), 2000-2011; photo © Inexhibit
Plan of the third floor; image courtesy of OMA
Views of the east facade of the new tower designed by Rem Koolhaas / OMA; photos © Inexhibit
North and west facades; photo © Inexhibit
The west and south facades with the panoramic elevator structure and the inclined strut photo © Inexhibit
Fondazione Prada Milan, west elevation of the Torre and the Deposito buildings; image courtesy of OMA
East elevation, cross-section, and cutout model; images courtesy of OMA
A detail of the interior of the panoramic elevator clad in pink onyx and gold-foil; photo © Inexhibit
The staircase that connects all levels of the Torre; photo © Inexhibit
The panoramic terrace of the restaurant located on the sixth floor; photo © Inexhibit
Plan of the sixth floor and the restaurant; image courtesy of OMA
View of the 4th-floor gallery with works by Mona Hatoum and Edward Kienholz; photo © Inexhibit
Plan of the 4th floor; image courtesy of OMA
The 5th-floor gallery with works by Michael Heizer and Pino Pascali; photo © Inexhibit
The eight-floor gallery with a series of installations by Damien Hirst and paintings by William N. Copley; photos © Inexhibit
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