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Macro Contemporary Art Museum

ODBC Odile Decq - Benoit Cornette

Zaha Hadid’s design for MAXXI and Odile Decq’s addition to MACRO challenge curators to present and visitors to experience contemporary art in radically different ways. Most museums are static and serve as a neutral foil to the exhibits; these new arrivals are dynamic and interactive. They blur the divide between circulation and display, and substitute a fluid interplay of open spaces and promenades for the conventional sequence of orthogonal white galleries. Consciously or not, both are inspired by Le Corbusier’s concept of the architectural promenade, and the spiral ramp of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Guggenheim, which achieved a similar goal, fifty years ago. The two museums are located to the north of the walled city and seek to generate a new audience while engaging the local community. There are other similarities. Both are grafted onto existing buildings: Hadid wraps the remains of a barracks, Decq extends a converted brewery. The two architects won competitions within a few years of each other and their buildings are both scheduled to open in May. It’s also notable that both principals are foreigners-something that would be unremarkable north of the Alps, but is a rarity in Italy-and (though one risks the wrath of Hadid in mentioning the fact) they are women who have triumphed in what is still predominantly a male profession. MACRO is a city-sponsored institution that began collecting in the 1950s and remodeled the former Peroni brewery just beyond the Porta Pia in the mid 1990s. Odile Decq Benoît Cornette and associate Burkhard Morass won a two-stage competition in 2001 with a design that turned tight physical and budgetary constraints to advantage. The site is an irregular rectangle to the rear of the existing buildings: two linear blocks linked by a glass-roofed atrium. The old street façade had to be preserved and this was 4.5 meters lower than the main entrance to the south. To provide a second point of entry and accommodate a lofty 1000 sm. gallery, the...

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