Nasher Museum Of Art

by | 03. Aug 2012

Cultural | Feature

Rafael Viñoly
Nasher Museum of Art
Duke University
Durham, North Carolina

Photo: Brad Feinknopf


The museum is composed as a series of five pavilions, each containing a specific component of the building program.

One is designed for the permanent collection, two for temporary exhibitions, one for the auditorium for classes and community use, and one for support services such as classrooms, and administrative offices.
A large formal lobby, with an adjoining café, is connected by terraces to the landscape.


Photo: Brad Feinknopf


Our design seeks to heighten the relationship between the built form and the natural features of the site, reinforcing our conception of the museum not as a single object within the landscape, but rather as pure geometric boxes drawing the landscape into the interior via their placement and forming a viewing corridor.
/Rafael Viñoly

Photo: Brad Feinknopf


The pavilions, monolithic forms with limited fenestration, are made of humble materials in earth tones that refer to the “Duke Stone,” a warm, locally quarried stone commonly used in the older buildings on campus.


Photo: Brad Feinknopf


Their placement of the pavilions, in a loose radial pattern, near the top of a gentle slope that characterizes the site, defines an irregular, pentagonal central courtyard, which is covered by a light canopy of glass and steel, and serves as the museum’s lobby and sculpture gallery.

Views to the exterior are provided from this atrium space through full-height openings between the pavilions.


Photo: Brad Feinknopf



Photo: Brad Feinknopf


To further blur the division between interior and exterior, the floor surface of the lobby is extended beyond its perimeter to define the exterior entry terraces and the independent café terrace.

Visitors are meant to move from one pavilion to the next as if through an architecturally abstracted version of the natural landscape.


Photo: Brad Feinknopf



Photo: Brad Feinknopf


The design also addresses the issue of future expansion and provides a clear plan for accommodating growth within the initial design concept.


Drawing courtesy Rafael Viñoly ArchitectsSite Plan


Drawing courtesy Rafael Viñoly ArchitectsPlan



Drawing courtesy Rafael Viñoly ArchitectsElevation

The Nasher Museum, inaugurated on Oct. 2, 2005, will house the permanent collection of the Duke University Museum of Art and will provide high quality spaces for the presentation of a wide range of temporary exhibitions.


CITY Durham, North Carolina