Letter to the Editor> Moussavi Missed in Cleveland

Midwest
Friday, May 10, 2013
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MOCA Cleveland. (COURTESY DEAN KAUFMAN)

MOCA Cleveland. (COURTESY DEAN KAUFMAN)

[ Editor’s Note: The following letter is an excerpt of a comment left on archpaper.com. It pertains to the new Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) Cleveland designed by Farshid Moussavi, which Stephanie Murg critiqued for AN‘s Midwest edition last November. AN welcomes reader letters, which could appear in our regional print editions. To share your opinion, please email editor@archpaper.com]

MOCA’s form is a simple game of extruded geometry. The base form shifts from a hexagon as it rises to a square at its top. A third year architecture student would have been given a C- and asked, “Is that all you could come up with?” The exterior is clad in black stainless steel panels that are already streaking at the corners. They also present a range of colors that indicate the material selection and/or production was not up to the task of producing uniformity.

(COURTESY DEAN KAUFMAN)

(COURTESY DEAN KAUFMAN)

Additionally, the gauge of the panels is such that they reflect extensive oil canning, which makes the black box look cheap. Moussavi introduced slanting windows that have nothing to do with the experience from the interior as they slash through spaces and right through floors, revealing their arbitrary and formal imposition. With exterior walls that slant from side-to-side and warp, tilting in and out, one can quickly become dizzy and nauseous. The only real design feature of MOCA is its stair—Moussavi herself calls it the “dominant architectural feature of the building.’ It is pressed up against the exposed construction of the exterior envelope, which is painted a very dark shade of blue. Everything is painted dark blue, except the white sidewalls of the stair. It shifts angles and doubles back at landings as it drags one upward. As you finally turn for the last half section at the primary exhibition space, you are confronted with a massive exposed air handling unit—painted dark blue—hovering just above your head with its three flywheels waiting to shave off any hairstyle attempting verticality. The light fixtures also hang down into your headroom, obscuring your view down. It is unpleasant and absurd. You perceive that the roof is too low and you feel compressed in the largest open space in the project. Even Wright knew that after “compression” came “release.” Not Moussavi.

William T. Eberhard,
Eberhard Architects

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