Minimalist Cleveland Museum Seeks LEED Silver

The sleek new building for the Cleveland Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA), which opened to the public in October, brings not only a new modernist icon of culture to the city, but also environmental stewardship with a host of energy saving attributes that tread lightly on its eight-acre urban footprint.

Designed by British architect Farshid Moussavi, the new 34,000-squaure-foot MoCA provides 44 percent more exhibit space than its previous home and is vying for LEED Silver status with a geothermal HVAC system, efficient LED lighting, a compact floor plan that utilizes virtually every square inch for exhibits and easy accessibility to rapid transit.

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In true green fashion, MoCA is applying a minimalist aesthetic to its operational model, focusing not on acquiring permanent collections but on custom-made installations and community programming. By having almost no space available for storage, the museum relies instead on a rotating schedule of artists to create works that can incorporate elements of the museum’s design, including stairwells. This flexible model also makes the $27 million museum less costly to operate.

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Henrique Oliveira’s artwork, Carambóxido, from MoCA’s inaugural exhibition. Image via Architectural Digest.

The shape of the building, sheathed in dark but reflective stainless steel and glass, is essentially an irregular cube that begins as with a six-sided floor plan and rises to a four-sided top floor, where the largest exhibit space is located. The interior steel walls of the building, painted cobalt blue, reveal the beams and rivets that hold everything together.

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Surrounding the structure is a new plaza, designed by landscape architect James Corner, adding green space to Cleveland’s Uptown neighborhood. Vertical windows on the sloping planes of the building and a triangular glass façade also allow natural light to seep into parts of the interior.

The museum will be the anchor of a $150 million re-development plan for the Uptown neighborhood, which will include new apartments, shops, bars and restaurants, plus the Cleveland Art Institute’s expansion and renovation of the adjacent Joseph McCullough Center for the Visual Arts.

Randy Woods is a Seattle-based writer and editor with 20+ years of experience in the business publishing world. A former managing editor of Seattle Business, iSixSigma, Claims and Waste Age magazines, he has covered topics that include newspaper publishing, entrepreneurism, green businesses, insurance, environmental protection and garbage hauling (yes, really). He also contributes to the Career Center Blog for The Seattle Times and edits a photography magazine called PhotoMedia. When not working, he likes to hide out in Seattle movie theaters and attend film festivals—even on sunny days.

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