The Mint Museum

The Levine Center for the Arts in Charlotte, North Carolina is made up of four downtown venues that instill culture in a city better known for banking, finance and racing. One such component is the Mint Museum Uptown, which houses a collection of art, craft and design and international traveling exhibitions in a building designed by Boston's Machado and Silvetti Associates. The architects answered questions about the newest addition to the 75-year-old institution, which opened its doors last fall.
Detail view of the Mint Museum’s undulating facade along W 1st Street
What were the circumstances of receiving the commission for this project?

The request for qualifications lead to a short list of six domestic firms. The first interview was held in November 2005, after which the short list was reduced to only two contenders: Machado and Silvetti Associates with Clark Patterson Lee and Pei Cobb Freed of NYC with the Charlotte based office of Perkins and Will. The second interview took place in December 2005 and the competition winner was announced in January 2006. At that final interview we presented four sets of design ideas which were the basis of the design work that we started in February 2006.
View of the Mint Museum’s Grand Hall ( Photo ©: ©Anton Grassl / Esto. Donald Sultan, Aqua Poppies, Dec 10, 2020, Collection of The Mint Museum, Charlotte, North Carolina. )
Can you describe your design process for the building?

The design process was particularly complex due to a number of unique reasons.

The City of Charlotte, in collaboration with Wachovia bank, had planned this very important site along Tryon Street (the main street in downtown Charlotte), as part of a cultural district including two other museums, a large theater, etc. This meant that the Bank, the City and the Museum were very much involved in the design process.

The site condition and unusual partitioning proved to be a challenge. A previously selected architect was already working on the loading dock and many levels of undergroung parking, a different architect was working on a residential tower to be built on top of the Mint Museum, thus traversing our assigned building space (this architect also designed the ground level commercial spaces under our building), and a third landscape architect was designing the plaza in front of the Mint Museum.

Our client (The Mint Museums) wanted to combine two collections, the Mint Museum of Craft and Design and The Mint Museum of Art. The goal was to merge the two into a new building while allowing each to retain a certain degree of identity and autonomy. This lead to complex discussions based on the notions of iconicity, branding, identity, "two in one", etc.
Dusk View of the Mint Museum’s Tryon Street Façade
How does the completed building compare to the project as designed? Were there any dramatic changes between the two and/or lessons learned during construction?

The building was built exactly as it was designed. We had an excellent building construction team and our intentions were well manifested within the taxing budget conditions to be met.
How does the building compare to other projects in your office, be it the same or other building types?

As of now we have completed five art museums, yet all of them are radically different. Each institution has had its own budget and site resulting in drastically different buildings. Since we strive to make each building unique, this project does not compare to others done by us.
First Level / Site plan
How does the building relate to contemporary architectural trends, be it sustainability, technology, etc.?

We make every effort to avoid trends and to produce timeless buildings. The Mint Museum is a contemporary building, very much of its time and the product of today's technologies.
North Elevation
Are there any new/upcoming projects in your office that this building’s design and construction has influenced?

For us work is a continuum and somehow a project begins were the previous one ended... form comes from form, or, more precisely, from our form.

E-Mail Interview conducted by John Hill
The Mint Museum

Charlotte, NC

The Mint Museum

Machado and Silvetti Associates

Rodolfo Machado

Consulting Principal
Jorge Silvetti

Project Director
Conrad Ello, AIA

Project Architect/Manager
Andrew Cruse, AIA, LEED AP

Project Team
Seiee Kim
Jose Ribera

Associate Architects
Clark Patterson Lee (Executive Architect)
Aubrey Springer, AIA LEED AP
(Principal-in-charge, Project Director and Architect of Record)
Donald Lee, FAIA (Consulting Principal)
Dan Hartenstine, AIA, LEED AP (Project Architect)

CPL Sr. Design and CA support Team
Dan Hartenstine, AIA, LEED AP
Luke Corbett, LEED AP

CPL Project Team
Jeff Chaney, AIA
Erik Varvel
Geoff Ward
Andrew Lawrence
Joe Rausch
Robin Washco
Michael Ferreri
Leslie Waldinger
Derek Johnson

Structural Engineer
TRC, Inc./Jenkins & Charland, Inc.

MEP/FP Engineer
Newcomb & Boyd

Lighting Designer
George Sexton Associates

Rodgers Builders (for building uplift)
A Joint Venture of Batson-Cook Company
and RJ Leeper Construction Company
(for building shell and core)

Civil Engineer
Geoscience Group

Elevator Consultant
Elevator Advisors, Inc.

Waterproofing/Building Envelope Engineers
Williamson & Associates

Building Area
165,000 SF

©Anton Grassl / Esto