Preston Scott Cohen, architect of the recently opened expansion to the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, refers to the addition’s exterior as “the urban version” of the building’s Lightfall—the spiraling skylit atrium and circulation space that vertically connects the new galleries. But for reasons of expense, instead of enclosing the building with sensuous curved surfaces similar to those that define the twisting interior space, Cohen opted for a curtain-wall system of precast-concrete panels. No two of the 465 panels are alike, but most are in the shape of quadrilaterals or triangles, and some are as long as 30 feet on a side. They fit together to create a subtly faceted wrapper made up of large folded planes.
Primarily because of the difficulty of finding a precast manufacturer with the necessary expertise, the project team elected to produce the 5-inch-thick cladding elements at the building site, according to Israel Chaskelevitch, principal of the eponymous firm that served as the construction manager through late 2009. Keeping the fabrication process on-site also helped avoid the damage that might occur during transportation, especially to the panels’ vulnerable knifelike edges and sharp corners.