The Gulf Coast Museum of Art is a 45,000 square foot art center in Largo, Florida.† The campus design reflects the museumís dedication to collecting, exhibiting and teaching the visual arts.† The project includes exhibition galleries, studios for instruction, an outdoor sculpture garden, a research library, a museum store, auditorium, and a master artist residence.† The Museum is part of the areaís plans for an integrated group of cultural institutions that include the Botanical Gardens, the Heritage Village and the Florida Gulf Coast Art Museum of Art.† The buildings are connected by a lightweight, steel colonnade that runs parallel to the waterway, offering views of the botanical gardens.† The buildings are spaced to form intimate gardens, allowing a simple weaving of landscape and architecture while integrating the two cultural endeavors.† As visitors move through the gardens they are encouraged to observe and interact with classes and artists in the studios.

At the galleries an innovative lighting system was created featuring a number of north-facing skylights which punctuate the roof and deliver an even wash of natural light, a "veil of light." The skylights are both curved and elongated in section in order to filter the destructive ultraviolet rays of direct light by bouncing the light against the curved walls. The result is an incredible glow of natural light that reveals the full color spectrum, something that is impossible in artificial light.

The project received the 2001 American Institute of Architects New England Honor Award for Design Excellence, the 2001 Boston Society of Architects Design Honor Award, and the 1996 Boston Society of Architects Unbuilt Architecture Design Award.† The project was featured in the June 2000 issue of World Architecture and in James Truloveís book, Designing the New Museum: Building a Destination.

Photo Credits:

Chuck Choi Architectural Photography