The New Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum on Michigan State University's East Lansing campus bursts from its traditional collegiate setting like a futuristic concertina pushing free from the deep pit of the devil's orchestra. 'It is a strange object sitting on the edge of campus,' admits Zaha Hadid, but one with a magnetic quality, she points out. 'This radically abstract object,' adds her partner Patrik Schumacher, 'brings this element of making strange'of building something to be explored and discovered.'

The need to house a growing art collection and expand programming, aided by a whopping $26 million gift from businessman, philanthropist, and MSU alumnus Eli Broad and his wife, Edythe, in 2007, provided the genesis for the project. The original idea was to build an extension to MSU's Kresge Art Center, a midcentury building tucked far into campus, housing the Department of Art, Art History, and Design as well as the esteemed Kresge collection of 7,500 works dating from the Greek and Roman periods through the present day. But Eli Broad wanted to do something more transformative. University president Lou Anna K. Simon agreed and identified the prominent site of the 1947 Paolucci Building as the home for a new museum. Hugging the campus's northern edge on the busy, commercial Grand River Avenue, the location would assure visibility and encourage community engagement. MSU organized a competition, selecting Zaha Hadid Architects in 2008 (from a shortlist that included Coop Himmelb(l)au, Morphosis, Kohn Pedersen Fox, and Randall Stout Architects). After Broad chipped in another $2 million and the Paolucci Building had been razed, the museum broke ground in early 2010.

Bold and brassy, the building, say the architects, was designed with some restraint'a result of its strict $45 million budget and modest size of 46,000 square feet. In fact, it is devoid of curvilinearity: All surfaces are flat and all lines, as much as they dart hither and thither, are straight. 'We imposed this formal universe of the trapezoidal volumes and spaces all the way through,' says Schumacher. The building's tilting and thrusting and crazed striations make it appear distorted, and its volume is difficult to understand without a complete tour around its exterior. This lack of perpendicular or parallel lines necessitated modifying the building process. 'We put few dimensions on the construction documents,' says Paul Stachowiak, president of Integrated Design Solutions (IDS), the executive architect on the job.'Everything was a point in space. We had to work in [Cartesian coordinates] eastings and northings, versus feet and inches, so things were surveyed and adjusted along the way.'

The pleated and louvered metal skin was present in the architects' first sketches. Motivated by a desire to admit filtered light, the designers mimicked a factory sawtooth roof in miniature and then expanded the idea to characterize the zigzagging of the whole surface. The striations shooting off in all directions are like pinstripes gone wild, which, in concert with the metal's reflectivity, pleasantly activate the surface. Using a 3-D model, the team'including ZHA in London, IDS outside Detroit, engineers Structural Design Inc. in Ann Arbor, and consultants Zahner in Kansas City, Missouri (for stainless steel), and Josef Gartner in Germany (for glazing and structural steel)'held weekly calls for almost a year to refine the envelope. You get the sense that ZHA conducted this maniacal symphony because it could, cheered on by Broad and MSU, who will use the resulting big gesture as a calling card. Nevertheless, respecting the scale of the neighboring leafy Collegiate Gothic red-brick quads and the commercial strip across the way, the building fits in.

Having both a campus and city entrance provided an important symbolism for the school. You can enter from the west into a central hall or from the east through a courtyard into the lobby, which leads into a welcoming, double-height caf' and education wing behind large, tilted structural window walls. Off the lobby, a floating staircase is cantilevered and cranked through the volume. It is flanked by two load-bearing walls of silky-smooth concrete canted at 15 and 20 degrees, respectively. This skewing sets the visitor off kilter. But you regain your equilibrium as you enter the galleries'though neither orthogonal nor completely straight-walled, they are, in relation to the public areas, tame. The double-height Minskoff Gallery, with its jutting glazed maw, is the most dynamic of these, offering interesting installation possibilities'the museum displays pieces from the Kresge collection, which it inherited, alongside commissioned and loaned work (in particular from the Broad collections). But some of the smaller, narrow exhibition spaces feel confined and taper to abrupt terminations next to emergency exits that seem unconsidered, as if the designers petered out and just put up a wall, tilting it for visual interest.

By dispensing with the white-cube gallery, the architects say they hoped to challenge curators and visitors. 'We want to participate in the dynamism of the building, rather than try to figure out how we are going to fight this thing,' says museum director Michael Rush. Pointing to parallel ambitions in contemporary art, he underscores the opportunities here: 'In a structure like this, where the body is engaged physically with its surroundings, you have this amazing synergy between building, art, body, and perception.' At another level, the museum challenges the university. 'It's a springboard for saying, 'Let's break out of convention,' ' says MSU associate provost Linda Stanford, 'both in terms of building and also what we do academically.'

Schumacher explains the museum's relationship to its backdrop as a 'figure-ground' one. And Hadid notes that the campus provides a 'frame.' Even so, while achieving extreme visibility, the architects have met the seemingly oppositional challenge of integrating this odd though amiable creature into its conventional college-town setting.


Owner: : Michigan State University
Client Representatives: Linda Stanford/Daniel Bollman

Zaha Hadid Architects
14-16 Lord Edward St, Flr 2
Dublin 2
t +353 (0)1 633 9000
f +353 (0)1 633 9010

Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:
Zaha Hadid
Patrik Schumacher
Craig Kiner – Project Director
Alberto Barba – Project Architect
Nils Fisher – Project Director (competition)
Registered Architects in the UK and Europe

Architect of Record/Associate Architect
Executive Architect
Integrated Design Solutions
1441 West Long Lake, Suite 200
Troy, Michigan 48098  USA

Structural Engineer
AKT II (Adams Kara Taylor)
100 St. John Street
London EC1M 4EH  UK

Mechanical/Electrical Engineer
Max Fordham and Partners
42/43 Gloucester Crescent
London NW1 7PE  UK

Facade Consultants
Front Inc.
185 Varick Street
New York, NY  10014  USA

Construction Manager
Barton Malow Company
American Drive
Southfield, MI  48034 USA

Executive Structural Engineer
Structural Design Inc.
275 East Liberty
Ann Arbor, MI 48104  USA

Executive Mechanical, Electrical, Lighting, PH Engineer
Peter Basso Associates
5145 Livemois Road
Troy Michigan  48098-3276  USA

Executive Landscape Architect
Hamilton Anderson
1435 Randolph No. 200
Detroit, MI  48226  USA

Lighting Designer
Arup Lighting
155 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10013

Arup Security
155 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10013

Civil Engineering
7402 Westshire Drive, Suite 110
East Lansing 48917  USA

Cultural Consultant
Lord Cultural Resources
1300 Yonge Streeet, Suite 400
Toronto, Ontario Canada  M4T 1X3

LEED Consultant
Paul Davis Partnership
286 El Dorado Street
Monterey, CA 93940  USA

Envelope Commissioning
Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates Inc.
3050 Regent Boulevard, Suite 100
Irving, TX 75063  USA

Brad Feinknopf

Iwan Baan
 +31 (0)6 5463 0468

Paul Warchol
 +1 (212) 431 3461

Renderer/Animation(s): ZHA/Methanoia  Courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects

CAD system, project management, or other software used:
Maya, Rhinoceros, Acad, Revit, Tekla


46,000 square feet


$45 million

Completion date:

November 2012



Air, Moisture, and Vapor Barrier
W.R. Grace & Co; Grace Ice & Water Shield HT

Low-E Glass Coating
Guardian Industries Corp; Guardian SunGuard Super Neutral 70

Skylight Glazing
OKALUX GmbH; Okagel Nanogel

Building Envelope Spray Polyurethane Insulation
BASF Polyurethane Foam Enterprises LLC; Spraytite 178 Series

Inverted Roof Membrane System
Membrane:  Soprema, Inc.; Sopralene Flam 180
Insulation:  Dow Chemical Company; STYROFOAM Brand ROOFMATE Extruded Polystyrene Foam
Ballast:  T-Clear Corporation; LIGHTGUARD latex-modified concrete laminated insulation nboard

Solid Surface Material
DuPont; Corian

Composite Aluminum Panels
Alcoa Architectural Products; Reynobond ACM Colorweld 500

Lighting Control System
Marlin Controls

Recessed Linear Lighting
Axis Lighting; Beam 3, 4 and 6

Restroom Lavatories
Basin:  Neo-Metro; Ebb Concept
Faucet:  Kohler; Purist

Wood Flooring
Stair Flooring (company name); Factory Pre-Finished, Solid Maple Monogram XL Continuous Strip Flooring with True Squar-Edge

Restroom Wall Tile
MUD Mosaics Batter distributed by CIOT

Glazing and Structural Steel:
Josef Gartner USA
321 N. Clark Street Suite 2410
Chicago, IL 60654  USA

Stainless steel exterior/interior cladding:
A. Zahner Company
1400 East Ninth Street
Kansas City, MO 64106  USA

Architectural concrete/concrete superstructure
Granger Construction Company
6267 Aurelius Road
P.O. Box 22187
Lansing, MI 48909  USA

Structural Steel
Howard Structural Steel
807 Veterans Memorial Parkway
Saginaw, MI 48601  USA

Concrete Foundation/Exterior Concrete
Christman Constructors Inc.
324 E. South street
Lansing, MI 48910-1627  USA

Feature Stair Cladding
Riverside Group
2610 Pillette Road
Windsor, Ontario N8T 1R1 Canada

C. L. Rieckhoff Co., Inc.
26265 Northline Rd.
Taylor, MI 48180

Trend Millwork
1300 Papalas Drive
Lincoln Park, MI 48146

Electrical Contractors
Summit Contractors Inc.
15729 Peacock Road
Haslett, MI 48840  USA

Mechanical and Plumbing
Myers Plumbing and Heating Inc.
16825 Industrial parkway
Lansing, MI 48906  USA

Concrete flooring
Albanelli Cement Contractors, Inc
12725 Fairlane
Livonia, MI 48150  USA

Wood Flooring
Foster Specialty Floors
30681 Wixom Road
Wixom, MI 48393  USA

Interior Glazing
Lansing Glass Company
330 Baker Street
Lansing, MI 48910  USA

Lifts and Elevators
Schindler Elevator Corporation
4740 Talon Court SE, Suite #1
Grand rapids, MI 49512  USA

Other unique products that contribute to sustainability:
High performance building insulation, triple-glazed argon filled IGU’s, use of recycled materials: concrete cement replacement, recycled steel and plywood, low VOC adhesives and finishes, FSC ‘certified’ wood products, central university supplied steam driven generators for humidification and building hot water heat exchangers and domestic water heaters, highly efficient air handling units, non-irrigated landscape.
LEED ‘Certified’