Herzog & de Meuron designs gallery and sculpture gardens in Philadelphia

Swiss architect Herzog & de Meuron is working alongside Dutch landscaper Piet Oudolf on the design of a gallery dedicated to the works of the American sculptor Alexander Calder.

Calder Gardens will consist of two sculpture parks and an 18,000 sq ft structure clad in reflective metal to blend into its surroundings. Large windows will illuminate the internal galleries and frame Calder’s work in the external gardens.

The gardens will present a rotating selection of works from the Calder Foundation in New York, including mobiles, stabiles (that is, stationary mobiles), monumental sculptures and paintings.

Calder wrote of his works in 1933: “The aesthetic value of these objects cannot be arrived at by reasoning. Familiarisation is necessary.”

Jacques Herzog, said: “Since the given site between the Vine Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway does not have much charm, we felt that plants and gardens could help transform it successfully and turn itself into an attractive place for the people of Philadelphia, rather than simply adding another museum building to the already impressive collection of museums which are lining up along Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

“All of that strongly impacted our design – which was actually an open-ended process rather than a finished concept based on a fixed programme. A kind of conceptual path which made us carve out the ground rather than build forms and volumes above – we were looking for space to present Calder’s work in a new way.”

Leave a comment