Preston Scott Cohen’s Herta and Paul Amir Building opens at Tel Aviv Museum of Art

Seen from the flat plaza that wraps around it on two sides, Preston Scott Cohen‘s radical addition to the Tel Aviv Museum of Art strikes a geometrically independent pose. But this angled and faceted block dressed in precast concrete actually connects with its context much more than it disrupts, continuing a legacy of innovative architecture that has made Tel Aviv a Bauhaus mecca since the 1920s. Called “the White City,” Tel Aviv’s early-20th-century downtown boasts buildings by Erich Mendelsohn, a master plan by Patrick Geddes, and hundreds of International Style structures. In 2003, UNESCO declared it a World Cultural Heritage site.
Like those 20th-century buildings, Cohen’s 195,000-square-foot museum addition expresses a faith in the latest technology. And like much traditional Mediterranean architecture, it hides an intriguing core within a cool, white exterior. The museum’s new wing—called the Herta and Paul Amir Building—works from the inside out. Spiraling around a dramatic 87-foot-high atrium that the architect calls the Lightfall, the building takes visitors through a series of spatial experiences that are complex at its center and simpler at its perimeter.
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Excerpted from Architectural Record, November 2011.