Bellevue Arts Museum is located in the heart of downtown Bellevue where the bold glass, aluminum and textured concrete structure provides a dramatic presence at the intersection of Bellevue Way NE and the NE 6th pedestrian corridor. The three-story, 36,000 square foot Museum was designed by internationally renowned architect Steven Holl.
Holl made extensive use of glass, terraces and skylights in his investigation of light, creating a structure that is an artwork in its own right. Roughly a third of the exterior surface is glass, with the remaining two-thirds divided evenly between hand-sanded marine aluminum and textured concrete stained in earth-red tones.
Throughout the building different types of light are utilized to correspond to different concepts of time. The design also focuses on how light comes into the building and how it emanates out to create an interactive beacon of light at night.
Inspired by the Museumís origins as a street fair, large windows at ground level reinforce the Museumís openness to the community. The glass and aluminum entryway off Bellevue Way is two-storied and visitors are welcomed into the Museum Forum through a reception lobby. The Forum, an elliptical interior atrium, is at the center of the building and rises two stories. This large, open space serves as a gathering place, a starting point for tours and a site for special events. A 5-foot wide staircase along the south wall takes visitors to the second floor and 4,000 square feet of gallery space. A suspended stairway along the north wall overhead transports the visitor to the third floor and another 8,000 square feet of gallery space. On the rooftop, the elliptical Court of Light highlights Steven Hollís interest in the relationship between light and seasonal change. The top of the courtyardís north wall follows the curve of the 48th parallel and allows people to watch the sun trace the arc of the wall during the summer solstice.
In 2005, the Museum was renovated to meet the Museumís new mission as the Pacific Northwestís center for the exploration of art, craft and design. Three former classroom spaces were given over to gallery space, a vestibule was added to the stairway entry to the third floor galleries, the Museum Store was reorganized for better display and a new track lighting system was installed throughout the Museum to highlight objects. A new color palette and carpeting were used to soften the visitor experience. Modifications to the building underscore the versatility of the design created by Steven Holl.
ABOUT STEVEN HOLL
Architect Steven Holl, a Bremerton, Washington native and graduate of the University of Washington, has designed important architectural projects in cities around the world, including the Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki, Finland; Cranbrook Institute of Science in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan; American Memorial Library in Berlin, Germany; Nelson Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri; and Fukuoka Housing in Fukuoka, Japan. Holl was awarded a national AIA award for Design Excellence in 1997 for his Chapel of St. Ignatius located on the campus of Seattle University. Holl was also awarded a New York AIA Medal of Honor. His firm, Steven Holl Architects is located in New York City. Holl also teaches at Columbia University.
Images: (far left) Photo: Lara Swimmer Photography; (far right): Watercolor by Steven Holl