Spaces for Art, People, and Light

Exterior of the Herta and Paul Amir Building at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art
The new building’s 87-foot-high, spiraling “Lightfall” atrium
The building’s library
Another view of “Lightfall”
A multifunctional gallery
“Lightfall” and a gallery displaying Israeli art
The Amir Building in situ
An exterior shot
Exterior detail



The photo gallery above contains additional images complementing those that appear in the print edition. Use your mouse or the arrow keys to browse.

This winter, the entire Gund Hall lobby of the Graduate School of Design (GSD) was given over to various depictions, commentaries, and celebrations of the Herta and Paul Amir Building at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, which opened in November. Its designer is McCue professor of architecture Preston Scott Cohen, who is chairman of the GSD’s architecture department. The dramatic 195,000-square-foot building greatly enlarges the museum housing Israel’s largest collection of modern and contemporary art. Cohen’s plan won the design competition in 2003; design development went on from 2005 to 2007 and construction proceeded over the four years ending in 2011. An 87-foot-tall spiraling atrium that Cohen styles as “Lightfall” is the structure’s central element.

In a booklet on the building, Cohen writes that it “embodies the tension between two prevailing models: the museum of neutral white boxes that allow for maximum curatorial freedom and the museum of architectural specificity that intensifies the experience of public spectacle. An antidote to the Bilbao phenomenon [a reference to the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in Spain, one of the most widely admired works of contemporary architecture, designed by Frank Gehry, Ds ’57, Ar.D. ’00], the Amir Building signals a new synthesis: deeply interiorized and socially choreographed space, as opposed to the tendency in the 1990s to display the museum as a sculptural object in the city.”

Read more articles by: Craig Lambert

You might also like

Kevin Young Named 2024 Harvard Arts Medalist

Museum director and poet to be honored April 24

How Air Pollution Affects Our Brains

An expert Harvard panel discusses the links between air pollution and dementia, learning, mental health, and mood.

Steven Pinker on Apple’s Vision Pro

Professor of psychology on the science and history behind the Vision Pro.

Most popular

Klarman Hall Breaks Ground

Harvard Business School’s expansion proceeds, amid debate about capitalism.

Birthing a Legacy

Centennial celebrations for John F. Kennedy in Brookline

Adams House Will Be Renewed after Lowell

Renewal will make Adams wheelchair-accessible and add new social and activity spaces. 

More to explore

Photograph of Winthrop Bell 1910

Winthrop Bell

Brief life of a philosopher and spy: 1884-1965

Illustration of people talking to each other with colorful thought bubbles above their heads

Talking about Talking

Fostering healthy disagreement

Vacationing with a Purpose

New England “summer camps” for adults