Archive for March, 2012

I.M. Pei’s Islamic Art Museum

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

The Islamic Art Museum was commissioned to I.M. Pei by the Emir of Qatar. Construction finished in 2006, and the museum opened to the public in December, 2008.

The museum is one of Pei’s best projects after the Louvre renovation and the pyramid.

The geometric patterns of islamic patterns fit so perfectly I.M. Pei’s general motif and his structural design for this museum. The patterns, used sparingly in the modern crisp building, are quite elegant. When one comes into the interior, one is confronted with the backside of a grand staircase, which is quite sculptural. Beyond that on center is the Doha skyline “living room,” which frames the new downtown tower district and allows visitors to have a cup of tea and enjoy the space.

Within the lobby is a five-story space that a large circular chandelier and the dome at the center–quite beautiful. The cafe is also beautiful and has a wonderful yellow-tinted glass, as does the new fifth floor restaurant, which is visible from below (but not yet open). The galleries are on floors 1-3. Of course above the ground floor level are wonderfully detailed spaces filled with wood, granite, and metal that form the backdrop for the art exhibits.

The gallery is designed to be quite flexible to allow for changeability of tables and casework. The exhibit designer detailed the casework to fit into the architecture and assist with clean flow from one gallery to the other. The design allows visitors to cleanse their pallette before encountering the new gallery. The galleries are kept at a low light level and the lighting is very tightly integrated into the spaces and each and every artifact.

I love shadows in museums

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

The Islamic Art Museum in Doha was designed by the great I.M. Pei. It is a thing of beauty. I’ll post about the museum itself more tomorrow.

Inside, there were many fine exhibits, but one thing caught my eye particularly: the shadows. Sometimes museum lighting causes multiple shadows on the wall or display table, and, in this case, they were more exciting then the pieces itself. Generally, I am taken by the odd shadows of a Rococco frame in the Art Institute of Chicago since it has so many edges. But in this case, the three shadows come together to create different layers and depths of this simple circular shadow. It contrasted elegantly with the detail of the piece itself.

Curious Arab structures in Doha

Monday, March 5th, 2012

I’m not sure what these three things are, but they sure look authentic. My first impression was they were what the offspring of a cactus and wind tower would look like. They really cool forms and quite iconic.

The lighting both at the towers’ bases and at sunset was gorgeous and dramatic.

These huge icons are at Katarra, a project in Doha that has various cultural events.

I finally found Dubai’s cultural center

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

My colleague David Park joined me in Dubai last week. As David and I walked around the spice souk we smelled the spices and loved some of their textural qualities. As we left to catch the boat across the creek, we found a wonderful area called the Baskakija, near the Dubai Museum.

The Baskakija is filled with traditional buildings with narrow lanes of galleries and restauarants and a great trendy hotel that is filled with wonderful unexpected art that one could see in Santa Fe or Taos. The shadows are deep and the door textures have wonderful details. The hotel has a great lobby and two great courtyards. One presents the huge doll figures you’ll see in the pictures below. The tonal qualities of the openings are toned subtlety, almost like a charcoal or pencil drawing. The sculptures are very well done, but also eerie generally. It’s an interesting environment.