In order to create a new identity for the site, both a strong urban and iconic presence, the Soumaya Museum was conceived as a rotating sculptural building that is both an object and a part of the city.
The Soumaya Museum is part of a large scale mixed-use urban development on the edge of the Polanco district, one of the most exclusive areas of Mexico City. Located on a former existing 1940’s industrial site the Soumaya Museum – as the pre-eminent cultural program in the area – is a key instigator towards the transformation of urban perception and urban life in the area.
Its role as an institution provides urban programmatic mixture, activating and intensifying the surrounding public space while promoting the commercial activities in the neighborhood.
To create a shelter for its collection, the opaque facade is made of hexagonal aluminum modules that minimize exterior openings while optimizing the preservation and durability of the entire building.
The conglomeration of the individual modules reflects the diversity of the museums’ collection that includes the worlds’ second largest collection of Rodin sculptures, a wing of Medieval and Renaissance Art, and a gallery of Impressionism. This diverse collection is housed in a continuous exhibition space spread over six levels.
The shell of the building is made of 28 unique curved steel columns of varying size and shape. The structure is stabilized by a system of seven rings located on each floor. The top floor, with the roof suspended from a cantilever that allows natural daylight in, is the largest space in the museum.
The building also includes an array of public and private programs, including: a 350 seat auditorium, library, restaurant, gift-shop, a multi-purpose lounge, and administrative offices. Connecting the programs is a non-linear circulation zone, creating areas of interaction for users along a common path as they meander through the building, culminating in a naturally lit multi-use gallery on the top floor.