The new bookshop inside the University of Michigan Museum of Art was designed by students of the University's school of architecture. Positioned on the main axis of the Beaux Arts building, it is an independent structure measuring 540 sq ft (about 50 sq m).
The designers describe the bookshop as a 'reluctant object' for its position within the host building obliges it to fit in, to avoid calling attention to itself. Inspired by Robert Ryman, the American artist of white paintings, who achieves subtle effects with monochromatic textures, the exterior skin of the shop is an essay in textured monochrome. White pickled plywood panels clad the two long walls and a white painted drywall surface presents a textured face to the existing apse. On the fourth wall, a cloudy white screen of fibreglass acrylic is a backdrop for an information desk.
Externally, the white surfaces provide a background for medieval fragments and figures, their display designed to disturb the symmetry of the box and convey ambivalence. Embedded into one long wavering wall is a slender glass case which, supported on 101 spidery steel legs, holds manuscripts, chalices and small artefacts. On the opposite exterior is a composition of medieval figurines, individually held off the wall by steel arms and bases. As an object in space the box, that is the bookshop, becomes almost symmetrical, almost white, almost an object that competes with art.
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|Publication:||The Architectural Review|
|Article Type:||Brief Article|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2001|
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