Each art museum in Chicago has a unique approach to art. Some are focused on collections, some on diversity, some to discover new artists, or to provide the most “thought provoking” art. The Arts Club of Chicago is unique in that its mission statement is: “To encourage, foster, promote and sponsor activities and presentations which would aim to increase public interest in the arts and related activities.” The Arts Club of Chicago is also in a unique position as it houses two different kinds of people - those who are well educated in art and who fund the arts (club), and those who create art, love art, and are interested in learning more about art (public). In the current iteration of the museum these two groups of people are vastly divided, ironically by one of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s staircases. The main floor contains the public program, including a gallery, as well as administrative program. The upstairs club program is accessed only by traveling through a sliding glass vestibule and up houses van der Rohe’s stairs.
This project hopes to start fresh and avoid the errors made in the current design. By creating a building that unites the two different groups of people using their shared love of art as a catalyst for interaction. This position manifests itself in the creation of an enormous staircase that serves as both vertical circulation and gallery. It connects the expanded galleries below and the club programs above. Physically and visually connected, the two groups of people pass by each other regularly in the setting of a gallery.
Another issue that is addressed in the new design is that of raw gallery space. The program as it was given, required only a 200 sf of public gallery. The gallery is to house the work of world renowned artists like Maya Lin, Chris Ofili, George Grosz, Andy Warhol, and Bertrand Goldberg. By expanding the square footage of display space, the Arts Club is no longer held captive by their anemic gallery space - artist’s with large exhibit pieces are now welcome. In keeping with the new positions of publicness and openness, the edges of the building undulate creating spaces where the city is gestured in and the club program is gestured out onto ledges that overlook the city’s streets.
Status: Competition Entry