Museums Starting to Think Green

Developers of large buildings are learning that it pays to build more environmentally. But the builders of the many new museum expansions taking place across America seem to have missed this lesson. Museum Directors, on the whole, seem to feel that the strict conditions needed for housing art are incompatible with building environmentally friendly buildings. They say that the fragile and irreplaceable art being shown imposes a special set of requirements. Almost 77% of all recent and planned museum expansions have not requested LEED certification, including the new MOMA addition in New York. Those who have received it include the Getty in L.A. and Contemporary Art Museum in St. Louis. The most environmentally sound museum is the new addition to the Art Institute of Chicago, by Renzo Piano (pictured). It has a photocell lighting system that will automatically adjust incandescent fixtures to compensate for diminishing levels of natural light throughout the day, and a double-window façade that will provide natural ventilation. A "flying carpet" sun screen is composed of computer-modelled "wings" developed specifically for the Institute. It will save electricity consumption and achieve ideal lighting conditions during the day. The Centre for Architecture in New York installed a geo-thermal heating and cooling system that paid for itself within 3 years and today saves the Centre approximately $30,000 a year. There are a number of new projects under design—the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Miami Art Museum. Let's hope that they will build for the future both environmentally and artistically. :: The Art Newspaper

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