Date:November 2011
Author:Thomas Phifer
Publisher:ORO Editions
Dimensions:11.4 x 11.4 x .5 in.

Light in Nature: North Carolina Museum of Art: Fisher Island House

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Inside the North Carolina Museum of Art (NCMA), the light of day and lush surrounding fields have a presence unusual in institutional galleries for art. Overhead, hundreds of elliptical oculi in long parallel vaults bathe the museum interior in even, full-spectrum daylight, modulated by layers that filter out damaging rays. In this gently luminous setting, against pure white walls, the art-including a masterful Giotto altarpiece takes on heightened immediacy and vividness.

A departure from traditional hierarchies, the museum is, in some respects, a single 65,000-square-foot room. Within this spatial continuum, a succession of wall planes, many freestanding without reaching the ceiling, delineate separate galleries. Instead of fully enclosed rooms, each gallery has at least one open corner, inviting fluid movement.

Museum-goers also float freely from indoor galleries to outdoor sculpture courts or gardens and back in again. Because NCMA has no entry fee, it could forego formal checkpoints-transcending any need for a grand and controlling front hall.

Thomas Phifer is a recipient of the 2019 National Design Award for Architecture Design.


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