Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, St. Louis, Designed by Tadao Ando
Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, St. Louis
This art museum was commissioned by Joseph Pulitzer Jr., the grandson of Joseph Pulitzer, the newspaper publisher known throughout the world for the prizes awarded in his name. It houses the designs and art collection of the Pulitzer family. The site is in St. Louis, Missouri, which is located in the American Midwest at the confluence of the Mississippi and the Missouri Rivers. St. Louis developed as the gateway to the West in pioneer days and has an illustrious history. However, by 1991 the city was troubled by sprawl and the decay of the central district. At first, this development was intended to be a key part of a project to revive culture in St. Louis; the idea was to convert an old automobile factory in the city into an art museum.
The illness and death of Joseph Pulitzer during the phase of studying the factory and the preparation of a scheme forced the project back to square one. It was decided that an entirely new concept would be developed; the project began with the selection of a site together with Emily Rauh Pulitzer, who had taken over the direction of her late husband’s project. The architect Tadao Ando was given the responsibility to design the Pulitzer Art Foundation.
Art Museum’s Structural Planning
From the start, artists such as Richard Serra and Ellsworth Kelly participated in the project as advisors; the project proceeded as a collaboration between the architect and artists. Naturally, the artists sought galleries that would show their works to the greatest advantage. Ando tried to create introspective spaces suitable for a dialogue with art. Collaboration with individuals of uncompromising artistic temperaments was extremely tense work. Conflicts arose between the strong personalities involved. Mrs Pulitzer, too, was an expert, with considerable experience as a museum curator, and progress would have been impossible without her understanding. The tumultuous dialogue between architect and artists lasted ten years. The museum was at last completed in October 2oo1.
This small museum is almost residential in scale. The three recurrent themes of Andes architecture appear here: adherence to geometry in an organization, use of a limited number of materials, and abstraction of nature. In this museum of contemporary art, Ando uses materials, light, and geometry to create a tranquil place of great spirituality in an urban environment with little legible historical or cultural context. The success of this building in an environment very different from that of Japan demonstrates the universality of Ando’s spaces.
Then there are the works by Serra and Kelly. The artists, too, visited the construction site to revise their works and make repeated studies. The completed works occupy the core of the museum. Do contemporary artists object to the art museum as an institution, or do they reject their work being placed in a building called an art museum? The works by Serra and Kelly sit quietly as if there had been no conflict at all. A comparison of this museum and the Chichu Art Museum in Naoshima reveals different collaborative relationships existing today between art and architecture.
Pulitzer Art Foundation’s Renovation and Addition
The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts changed its name after the completion of renovation in May 2015 to Pulitzer Arts Foundation. The renovation was done by the architect Tadao Ando himself, who designed the same in 2001. With the expansion it adds up a space of 3600 sq.ft, which is used for the galleries. The expansion took place while preserving the original structure design and architecture. The design for this new expansion added two new galleries. These galleries are flexible and can be reconfigured or arranged as per the needs.
Also Read: Hardwick Hall Architecture and History