August 10, 2017

One of the primary features of the New Asheville Art Museum’s architecture is an element referred to by the project team as the “cradle.” The cradle is an L-shaped component that exists between the future Permanent Gallery volume and the plaza on Pack Square, as well as the new lobby space below. Its material composition of backlit perforated metal panels strikes a balance between an element that implies protection of the Museum’s Collection, while also allowing portions of it to flow out into the downtown community as light escaping through the panel’s apertures. An important factor in creating this gesture was being able to implement a consistent texture with the panel perforations.

In order for the design team to be successful in this endeavor they collaborated with two students, Alex Nelson and Christian Sjoberg, in the Design Computation graduate degree program at the School of Architecture of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Alex and Christian were able to develop a script through algorithmic modeling that takes the base perforation pattern and randomly culls apertures as the cradle extends up the north side of the building. This creates a consistent gradient that allows more light to spill out of the cradle at the street level, and less as the cradle reaches the sky. Parametric and computational modeling techniques are just another example of how the new Museum is utilizing state-of-the-art methods to construct a one-of-a-kind facility and increase its impact on the local community.