9 hours ago
American Swedish Institute, HGA, Minneapolis, 2012.
The American Swedish Institute (ASI) has since 1928 been located in the Turnblad Mansion in Minneapolis, one of a number of grand houses built on Park Avenue at the turn of the twentieth century. The ASI showcases Swedish culture and in 2012 they completed a large extension, designed by HGA, with the aim of increasing connections to the community—by providing indoor and outdoor gathering spaces, new exhibition spaces, a gift shop, offices, and collections care facilities.
The design aimed to maintain the visual primacy of the grand mansion building, but project a more Swedish identity—in recognition of the fact that the original building is French in style. The building incorporates a number of Swedish references, including a resin and glass entry facade that recalls artisan glassmaking, a courtyard in the form of a traditional gård, a green roof as a nod to the tradition of sod roofing, and extensive use of slate—a widely used traditional material in Sweden, and a connection to the roof of the ASI mansion. While I could not find any mention of it as an intentional design reference, the monolithic, raked roof forms also reminded me of Dala horses, traditional Swedish painted horse statuettes.
The building design strategy is very successfully executed to the exterior, but on the interior is rather lost in the normalcy of corporate detailing. Elements such as ceiling panel systems and recessed lighting result in a lack of legibility of any overarching design ideas, instead resulting in a rather generic, institutional character to the interior. I have commented elsewhere on the tendency for the output of large architecture practices to be normalized through standardized, practice-wide details and working methods—HGA is now a practice of hundreds of staff, and this problem can be observed in their work, including their much-lauded building for the Lakewood Cemetery Garden Mausoleum.
#hga #architects #minneapolis #modern #architecture #americanswedishinstitute #slate #glass #wood
#photography & #article by #williamtozer