Whitney Downtown Museum

New York
Axis Mundi
820 Washington Street, New York

40,000 sq. ft.

Design Team
John Beckmann, Andy Vann, Denise Pereira and Marielle Vargas

Viviane Liao and Andy Vann

Illustrations and Diagrams
Denise Pereira and Andy Vann

Why shouldn’t a museum building be as inspired and exciting as the art it holds? Why are we perpetually conceiving them as collections of white boxes locked within a grid structure? Axis Mundi breaks free of this form with its self-initiated proposal for the Whitney Downtown, experimenting—like all good art—with a more creative and challenging design. A dramatically irregular superstructure constitutes a perimeter lattice that conceals staircases, escalators, elevators and mechanical rooms. Column-free glass galleries are suspended like bridges from this lattice. In this way, the building more closely mirrors the actual creative process. We can imagine the irregular superstructure as the chaotic consciousness of the artist, within which ideas (the galleries) arise spontaneously and float freely, eventually falling into some sort of order within the matrix of the mind and coming to fruition on canvas, video, in three-dimensional sculptural form and other infinitely original ways. As John Beckmann says, “We imagine the contemporary museum to be a dynamic environment—a space that is less a container and more of a conduit.”

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Other Projects by Axis Mundi

Alternative Tower for MoMA 53W53
New York
Ark House
Barcelona, Spain
Toy Soldier Barricade
Greenwich Village Townhouse
New York
Vertical House
Smugglers Notch