28.01.2008

Expansion to the Jewish-American Museum in Philadelphia

The only museum in the U.S. that documents Jewish-American experience is adding to the existing building a 9.200 square metres complex that was designed by Polshek Partnership of New York.

As the Architectural Record reported lately, the National Museum for American Jewish History (NMAJH) aims to quintuple its attendance to 250,000 visitors a year. The new building is supposed to cost $150 million and opens on July 4, 2010. The architect James S. Polshek FAIA explained, that the design attempts to convey one group’s story of achieving freedom in the United States. The design is marked by two, four-story box-shaped volumes that will sit atop a street-level pedestal made of granite. The two volumes will be clad in two different materials, which are trying to give each volume a certain meaning. While one volume will be clad in terra cotta, it is supposed to convey permanence and protection. The second, more flamboyant volume will be clad in glass, which shall symbolize impermanence and fragility. The two wings are also trying to establish a dialogue between the past and the present, enabling “a reconciliation between people through the clarity of intersecting and interacting volumes, through a conversation between the transparent and the solid,” the architect said. The terra cotta wing will house galleries, an education centre and a theatre. Event rooms, circulation spaces and a staircase are housed in the glass-clad wing. The latter will be crowned by the “Freedom Beacon”, which is a flame symbolizing the 5,000 year old history of Judaism. It will be positioned at the top of a 35 metre-tall atrium. The site for the building is set in Philadelphia's historic district, and will front Independence Mall. Groundbreaking took place in fall 2007.
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