The Nelson-Atkins Museum, a Kansas City landmark, has expanded in a major way. Architect Steven Holl's white, translucent "boxes" won't please everyone, but they are a distinctive addition to the lush green hillside where the museum is situated.
We've only seen Holl's buildings from the outside and, to our eyes, the boxes take a little getting used to. But we came to a new appreciation of the museum extension through architecture writer Paul Goldberger, who has an appreciation of the expansion in the April 30 issue of The New Yorker.
As Goldberger correctly notes, the original Nelson-Atkins is a classical building located on a "vast lawn" that needed to be protected as the museum grew. Holl's solution was to design a series of irregular boxes, which he calls "lenses," down one side of the lawn.
The new buildings are, to put in mildly, a stark contrast to the original museum. But they do preserve the great lawn and they do offer something new and distinctive, which is no small achievement.
With travel season quickly approaching, we're recommending a road trip to KC and the Nelson-Atkins. The buildings, the setting, and the art are worth the drive. Before you go, check out Goldberger's article in at newyorker.com. It's under "The Sky Line" heading.