When the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, designed by Moshe Safdie, opened in November 2011, it turned Bentonville, Arkansas, into a destination for art and architecture. Four years later the Scott Family Amazeum joined the museum with offerings for families. Located adjacent to the Cyrstal Bridges entry drive, the Amazeum attracts attention through a soaring roof over the lobby. Haizlip Studio, architects of the Amazeum, answered a few questions about the building.
Entry ( Photo ©: Jeffrey Jacobs )
Please provide an overview of the project.
Planned as an adjunct of the acclaimed Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas, the Scott Family Amazeum is 50,000 square feet dedicated to family learning experiences.
East Elevation ( Photo ©: Jeffrey Jacobs )
What are the main ideas and inspirations influencing the design of the building?
The goals of the project were to sensitively graft the museum and five-acre site onto the Crystal Bridges campus at its entrance, and to create a signature work of architecture responding to the community’s explicit aspirations of design excellence.
On a fully exposed site, the visitor entrance and parking lots were internalized while orienting active nature-play gardens and education spaces to face primary public thoroughfares and view corridors. Program spaces were organized in simple plan geometry to let the volume of formal and informal education spaces create a play of three dimensional forms clad in a material palette referencing Crystal Bridges.
Detail ( Photo ©: Ken West )
How does the design respond to the unique qualities of the site?
Every façade has its own story to tell, and distinct architectural character, due to the absence of a back door side. On the east along NE J Street, the building has a static but statuesque presence. To the south along Museum Way, building scale is reduced and materials softened to front onto the play gardens; the west rises to receive visitors at the entrance off the parking lot, while the north successfully conceals the building’s utility side.
South Elevation ( Photo ©: Jeffrey Jacobs )
How did the project change between the initial design stage and the completion of the building?
Haizlip Studio originally envisioned the glulam structure as a composite structure, with both the parallel and perpendicular beams in one plane, instead of stacked. It was an elegant design requiring complex structural connections that were ultimately deemed too expensive during the value-engineering phase. We conceded, except at the main Lobby entrance, where the roof canopy soars to welcome visitors into the museum lobby.
Lobby ( Photo ©: Ken West )
What products or materials have contributed to the success of the completed building?
Most notably, the lobby and exhibit hall feature curved glue-laminated timber beams and a structural wood deck that sits on steel columns. The attachment between these two systems highlights the connection between the two materials and is a synthesis of refined engineered utility and the warm emotive aesthetic of wood.
Email interview conducted by John Hill.
Exhibit Hall ( Photo ©: Ken Petersen )
Site Plan ( Drawing ©: Haizlip Studio )
Floor Plan ( Drawing ©: Haizlip Studio )
Lobby to Exhibit Hall Section ( Drawing ©: Haizlip Studio )
Lobby Section ( Drawing ©: Haizlip Studio )