MASS MoCA Building 6: Robert W. Wilson Building

Bruner/Cott Architects

MASS MoCA’s Building 6 is a new museum made from found buildings where the spectacular interiors of existing mill structures become a three-dimensional underpainting for new, impactful contemporary art galleries. Design interventions weave in and out of over one thousand columns, hundreds of windows, and acres of maple factory floor. Existing spaces are edited, sculpting a two-story glass-roofed central core, a lounge at the museum’s “prow,” and two-story openings for art and visual connections. The original building remains legible—giving scale, context, and history—but has been thoroughly transformed for its new life as a museum. MASS MoCA retains what is historic, provides an exciting way to use the new, and culminates in a single new piece that is both old and new at the same time—a combined work. The galleries are designed as a series of “museums within the museum,” set into an industrial landscape of three one-acre floorplates. Each gallery hosts long-term exhibitions, dedicated to accomplished artists working in a variety of media: Turrell, Holzer, Bourgeois, and Rauschenberg. Open spaces between these internal museums create new galleries for changing and experimental pieces. Space, light, time, rhythm, and especially scale, are major design drivers. Bricks, beams, columns, muntins, and patina are the icons in the building vocabulary—old and new. New stairs, structural frames, and walls are woven into the existing fabric and detailed at the same scale and weight. MASS MoCA’s spaces are large, but paradoxically reflect and retain a human dimension.