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MOCA Cleveland Selects FOA For New Museum
Foreign Office Architects, Rendering of BBC Music Centre, Location: White City, London. Client: BBC/Land Securities Trillium- Completion: late 2006. © FOA.

CLEVELAND, OHIO.- MOCA Cleveland (Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland), the city’s preeminent presenter of contemporary and cutting-edge visual art, today announced the selection of the London-based firm Foreign Office Architects to design the Museum’s new and expanded permanent home. The facility will be located in the city’s cultural hub, University Circle, where it will be a centerpiece of a planned cultural and retail corridor adjacent to the campus of Case Western Reserve University. Since 1991, MOCA Cleveland has occupied galleries on the second floor of the Cleveland Playhouse complex on Carnegie Avenue, where space for the Museum has been constrained.

Foreign Office Architects (FOA), founded in 1992 by principals Farshid Moussavi and Alejandro Zaera-Polo, is internationally recognized as one of today’s most innovative and creative young architectural enterprises. Their projects, carried out in fourteen cities worldwide, are known for combining technical innovation with design excellence, and for integrating functional, environmental, and socio-cultural factors. The design for MOCA Cleveland will be the firm’s first major project in the United States, and its first museum.

MOCA Cleveland Board President Harriet Warm, co-chair of the Museum’s Architect Search Task Force, states, “In our search for an architect for the new MOCA, the Task Force was committed to selecting a young, creative firm. We looked at the work of many superb architects. Ultimately, we agreed that Foreign Office Architects, with its consistent record of excellence, will create an outstanding design that responds to the Museum’s need for flexible space and its diverse audiences. We also believe that our new building will help to enliven the neighborhood, which is an important aspect of the district development.”

MOCA Cleveland Executive Director Jill Snyder adds, “MOCA Cleveland has undergone tremendous growth in recent years, and is now poised to become a national and international destination for audiences interested in contemporary art. In looking to the future, we have been engaged in a strategic-planning process that, like MOCA itself, embodies a twenty-first century vision of contemporary creativity and innovation. We are confident that Foreign Office Architects will produce a design that will add a new perspective to the contemporary dialogue about how we view museums.”

Farshid Moussavi, Director, FOA, says, “Foreign Office Architects is delighted that its first major project in the U.S., and its first museum anywhere, is the design for a new building for MOCA Cleveland. Developing a concept that will accommodate diverse art forms, include ample and inviting public space, work within and contribute to an exciting urban area, and maintain high environmental standards—all while ensuring that the building will serve the needs of generations to come—is an exhilarating prospect. We are grateful to MOCA Cleveland for selecting us for this important project.”

Selection Process
The Museum first announced its plans for a new building and the accompanying search for an architect in late 2005. In addition to Ms. Snyder and nine representatives of the Museum’s Board—Ms. Warm, Harriet Goldberg, Agnes Gund, Hope Hungerford, Stewart Kohl, Toby Lewis, Mark Schwartz, Marjorie Talalay, and Paul Westlake—the Architect Search Task Force included diverse stakeholders from the Greater Cleveland community.

Throughout the search process, MOCA remained committed to finding emerging talent to envision the design of its new building. The firm of jones kroloff design services, an architectural consulting business based in New Orleans, was retained to help structure the process, which involved the review of some thirty firms. In spring 2006 the search was narrowed to six firms, whose work was presented to the public in an exhibition held at the Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative. In addition to Foreign Office Architects, the finalists were Michael Maltzan Architecture, Los Angeles; Office dA, Boston; Reiser + Umemoto, New York City; ShoP Architects, New York City; and Studio MDA, New York City.

The Museum is currently working with the Cleveland-based Westlake Reed Leskosky to develop a space program for the new building. It is estimated that this process will be completed in early November 2006, following which FOA will begin to develop the concept design. The Museum has undertaken a capital campaign for the new facility, which is estimated to cost in the range of $25 million. To date, nearly $6.4 million has been raised, $2.1 million of which is a generous grant from The George Gund Foundation.

The New MOCA Cleveland
MOCA Cleveland’s new building will be an iconic structure in one of the Cleveland area’s most important redevelopment programs—the eight-acre University Arts and Retail District (UARD). Located in the area known as University Circle, adjacent to Case Western Reserve University, the UARD will contain a dynamic mix of retail, residential, and cultural components, including MOCA Cleveland and an expansion of the Cleveland Institute of Art. The District will be designed to enhance existing historic qualities of the area and serve diverse populations, including residents of nearby neighborhoods, visitors, and Case students, staff, faculty, and alumni.

MOCA’s new facility will enable it to professionalize the way it operates and to diversify its exhibition and programming activities. It will increase MOCA’s capacity for new media; include flexible, multi-use space for educational programming; and provide a host of new visitor amenities, such as a café and a welcoming lobby, that reflect the social functions that museums today fulfill. Additionally, the new MOCA Cleveland’s proximity to other arts and educational organizations will facilitate and enhance the Museum’s many ongoing partnerships and collaborative projects.

Foreign Office Architects (FOA)
Since its founding in 1993 by the husband-and-wife-team of Farshid Moussavi and Alejandro Zaera-Polo, Foreign Office Architects has emerged as one of the world’s most creative and sought-after young architectural firms. The Iranian-born Ms. Moussavi and Spanish-born Mr. Zaera-Polo, both in their early forties, have been critically acclaimed for the originality and diversity of their designs, which reflect the increasing globalization and complexities of contemporary life. Their body of work, praised for its use of dramatic forms and innovative materials, also reflects their fascination with the interplay of architecture, landscape, and nature. FOA’s first major project, the Yokohama International Port Terminal, in Japan (2002), immediately catapulted the firm to the forefront of international architectural practice. In that same year, they were selected by the British Council to design the British Pavilion for the 2002 Venice Architectural Biennale, one of the world’s most prestigious forums for the presentation of contemporary architectural ideas. Later projects have included the Spanish Pavilion for EXPO 2005 in Aichi, Japan; a seaside park in Barcelona for the International Forum of Cultures (2004); the Municipal Auditorium in Torrevieja, Spain (2006); and a publishing headquarters in Paju, South Korea (2005). FOA was also short-listed in the 2002 competition to design a memorial at New York City’s Ground Zero.

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