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

The Roman Empire’s Cosmopolitan Frontier

Genetic analysis reveals a culture enriched from both sides of the Danube.

Tobacco Smoke and Tuberculosis

Harvard researchers illuminate a longstanding epidemiological connection. 

Discourse and Discipline

Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences broaches two tough topics.

Most popular

WinterFest Weekends

Sledding, Nordic skiing, and art at Fruitlands Museum, in Harvard, Massachusetts

Harvard and HUCTW Reach Tentative Contract Agreement

The deal marks the end of nearly a year of strained negotiations between the University and its largest labor union.

Harvard’s Eugenics Era

When academics embraced scientific racism, immigration restrictions, and the suppression of “the unfit”

More to explore

Illustration of a box containing a laid-off fossil fuel worker's office belongings

Preparing for the Energy Transition

Expect massive job losses in industries associated with fossil fuels. The time to get ready is now.

Apollonia Poilâne standing in front of rows of fresh-baked loaves at her family's flagship bakery

Her Bread and Butter

A third-generation French baker on legacy loaves and the "magic" of baking

Illustration that plays on the grade A+ and the term Ai

AI in the Academy

Generative AI can enhance teaching and learning but augurs a shift to oral forms of student assessment.