Cranbrook Academy of Art & Art Museum


Cranbrook Academy Art Museum Renovation & Collections Building

Bloomfield Hills, Michigan

31,200 gsf / 2,8993 m2

Architecture, Building Systems Consulting, Historic Preservation

39th Annual ESD Construction and Design Awards: Top 7 Construction Projects (2013) - 1st Place, 39th Annual Interior Design Award, Award of Merit -- Best Projects of 2012

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The collections addition at Cranbrook’s museum is a study in context, planar form and materiality. Acclaimed for breaking new ground while reinforcing existing design and mission, the addition nearly doubles the floor space and adds extensive functionality.

Flanking Eliel Saarinen’s renowned museum, the building is designed as a place of learning about art, within the art itself. SmithGroupJJR deploys a model of open storage to reinvent the relationship of an artwork collection with the public. This contrasts with most museums, where vast private collections are unseen by the public.

In the Collections Building, the full, 6,000-piece collection is on display, a veritable canon of furniture, textiles, ceramics and fine art from famed alumni, faculty and designers including Andy Warhol and Charles and Ray Eames.

This is architecture directly serving a pedagogical mission: bringing the collection to life for generations. In view of Saarinen’s peristyle and Carl Milles’s fountain, it completes the second phase of a master plan – as one critic wrote, “redefining the museum’s forecourt with a quiet demeanor while reinforcing its powerful entry sequence.”

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