Herzog & de Meuron unveils design for art museum facing the Mississippi River

Memphis Brooks Museum of Art

Swiss architecture office Herzog & de Meuron has released a plans for an earth- and glass-clad building overlooking the Mississippi River that will house the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art.

The project will see the existing art museum relocated to this new 112,000-square-foot (10,405-square-metre) building that will be located in downtown Memphis and perched on a bluff above the river.

Museum by Herzog & de Meuron
The new museum will include a glass pavilion

The updated Memphis Brooks Museum of Art will comprise a rectilinear glass pavilion supported by a sloping earthen base that will be reconstituted from the bluff.

This exterior cladding will intend to recall the hues of the exposed clay landscape along the Mississippi River.

Memphis Brooks Museum of Art gallery space
Galleries will be located on one level

With a superstructure made from cross-laminated timber, the pavilion is designed to be sustainable according to its architects.

Visitors will access the museum at the main entrance formed from a pair of double-height wooden columns, a metallic canopy and a brick-paved entry court. The entrance area will include a cafe and a shop.

Featuring expansive views of the river, the structure will also frame a wooden-clad courtyard designed as an outdoor room for public gatherings.

A series of interior galleries will encircle this courtyard, all positioned on the same main level for ease of access. This level will also house education classrooms and spaces for interactive family activities, while parking and other public facilities will be located below.

Glass box theatre
A glass-box theatre will overlook a courtyard

A 175-seat theatre encased in a glass box will be elevated above the entrance and cantilever outwards over the courtyard.

Scheduled to open in 2026 after breaking ground in 2023, the new Memphis Brooks Museum of Art from part of the current Memphis Riverfront Concept created by architecture offices Studio Gang and SCAPE to redevelop the city’s waterfront.

Views of the Mississippi River
Views of the Mississippi River will be offered from the museum

Herzog & de Meuron was founded in 1978 by Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron. Other recent cultural projects by the firm include a brick extension for Germany’s MKM Museum Küppersmühle and a wedge-shaped art institute in Seoul, South Korea.

The renderings are courtesy of Memphis Brooks Museum of Art.

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