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Clyfford Still Museum

by David Mitchell on October 14, 2013


On my last trip to Denver this summer I stopped by to take a look at the much talked about Clyfford Still Museum. The Museum by architect, Brad Cloepfil, was an amazing experience. The Museum is conceived as a solid, a mass of concrete, crushed granite and quartz, a single construction that is opened up by natural light. The body of the building becomes the source of light for the art. Light is amplified, diffused and obscured and by each surface of the building. The architect developed a poured-in-place concrete screen for the ceilings in the upper-level galleries. This thin plane features a pattern of distorted ovals, biased toward the north, that runs diagonally across the surface, creating an opening for sunlight. The ceiling is structurally tied back to the adjacent concrete walls. Rough-sawn fir planks were placed on the surface of the cast-in-place concrete walls. Concrete oozed between the planks and formed fins that broke when the board were removed. This created the craggy, vertical lines that reference Still’s paintings. The deepest and most tightly spaced ridges face the western sun, creating a strong pattern along the street.

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