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Indiana University Art Museum

Kevin J.S. Zollman
Courtesy of Pei Cobb Freed & Partners

This museum and academic building occupies a sloped site at a key pedestrian crossroads on the Bloomington campus of the University of Indiana. The site’s 10-foot differential allows one to enter the upper level on the north and exit on the lower level (south), which encourages students to walk through the building and see what’s going on inside, even if they are not interested in art. Like Pei’s Mellon Center, which used a similar strategy, the building is both a bridge and a destination.

Similar to the East Building of the National Gallery of Art, which was in design at the same time, the building has two triangular wings joined by a skylit atrium. Here, the skylight slopes up at a 30-degree angle to create a distinctive 105-foot-high landmark that visually connects the building to the rest of the campus. The whole is executed in buff-colored architectural concrete, inside and out, to complement neighboring buildings. Both wings are three stories high, but the museum component is 15 feet taller to accommodate exhibition galleries on each floor. The lower east wing houses an additional gallery on the ground-floor, with the library and open reading room above, connecting to the existing Fine Arts Building at the second level. Like the Johnson Museum at Cornell, this building joins exhibition spaces with learning/teaching spaces in an integral whole, additionally providing conservation laboratories, 3rd-floor offices and study areas (all with northern light), a photography studio, classrooms, and a student lounge that opens to a rooftop sculpture terrace.


Site plan / Courtesy of Pei Cobb Freed & Partners

Design Team: I.M. Pei, Design Partner; Theodore J. Musho, Design Architect
I.M. Pei & Partners