The atrium, or Lightfall, inside the just-completed Amir Building addition to the Tel Aviv Museum of Art serves much the same purpose as the space at the heart of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City: Both are dramatic, sculptural voids with circulation spiraling around their perimeters. But the similarities end there, points out Preston Scott Cohen, the new building’s architect. Unlike the Guggenheim atrium, the Lightfall “doesn’t consume the whole museum,” says Cohen. It allows for the flexible, rectangular galleries that his client desired.
Although the shapes of the Tel Aviv Museum’s new exhibition spaces are much more conventional than that of the Lightfall they surround, the structure of the galleries is still complex, notes Dani Schacham, a partner with YSS, the project’s structural engineer. The galleries are composed of stacked structural systems, with each level rotated 22.5 degrees relative to the one below. Vierendeel trusses, some carrying two levels and almost 30 feet deep, span as much as 110 feet. These carry smaller intermediary members.