Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts | Allied Works Architecture

• June 16, 2011


Allied Works was named one of eighteen international finalists to create the Pôle Muséal Lausanne, which encompasses transforming an historic train shed and industrial site into a new cultural district. As part of the competition, Allied Works created a master plan and completed the building design for the new Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts (MCBA). Future institutions include the Musée de design et d’arts appliqués contemporains (MUDAC) and the Musée de l’Elysée.

Allied Works Architecture pM MCBA Birds Eye View 600x340 Musée Cantonal des Beaux Arts | Allied Works Architecture

Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts, render courtesy Allied Works Architecture

Allied Works’ design was developed in collaboration with an international team of designers, including Latz+Partner for Landscape, Resnicow Schroeder Associates for Cultural Planning, and Nicolet Chartrand Knoll for Structural and Civil. Allied Works was the only American firm invited to participate in the competition, which represents the firm’s first competition in Europe. Other participants included: 51N4E (Netherlands), Gigon&Guyer (Germany), Harry Gugger (Switzerland), Kengo Kuma (Japan), Nieto Sobejano (Germany), Eduardo Souto de Moura (Portugal) and Bernard Tschumi (France).

A public exhibition of the designs will be held June 17 – 30 at the Site des Halles CFF aux locomotives, Lausanne.

Allied Works Architecture pM Arts Walk Approaching MCBA 600x351 Musée Cantonal des Beaux Arts | Allied Works Architecture

Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts, render courtesy Allied Works Architecture


Located at the critical intersection of landscape and infrastructure and adjacent Lausanne’s main train station, Allied Works’ proposal builds upon what exists to create a beacon and powerful new urban gateway, signifying the city’s social and cultural center and growth into an international city.

The site becomes one interwoven precinct for the arts, engaging the principles of unity and celebrating the unique combination of cultural, public and landscaped space. The first phase of development includes:

  • restoring the original landscape and expanding the open space for the public;
  • establishing a continuous walking path through the cultural district known as the “Arts Walk”; and
  • creating the new MCBA, which catalyzes the site into one unified arts experience.
Allied Works Architecture pM MCBA Building Concept Diagram pM 600x551 Musée Cantonal des Beaux Arts | Allied Works Architecture

Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts - Conceptual diagrams & sketches, drawing courtesy Allied Works Architecture


Entering through a new sculpture court, the visitor is greeted with arts program information, fountains, installation art and outdoor events. One approaches the MCBA by either rising up the Arts Walk or filtering through a new multi-functional community space, which occupies the existing train shed. Moving through the community space, the visitor first encounters the glass exhibition hall. From there one continues into the sheltered court, covered in wisteria in the summer and protected from the noise of the trains. Rising up a gradual landscape stair, the garden is a place of repose that serves as the forecourt for the new MCBA.

Allied Works Architecture pM MCBA Landscaped Entrance 600x771 Musée Cantonal des Beaux Arts | Allied Works Architecture

Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts, render courtesy Allied Works Architecture

The forms and spaces of the new MCBA are both monumental and transparent. The building’s geologic form is fractured by activity, providing glimpses into and through the heart of the building. Ideal gallery proportions establish a rhythm of space and structure along the Arts Walk and rail lines. Between galleries, structure, circulation and light form fissures of transparency – filtering and diffusing light into the galleries, providing views to the landscape and city while connecting the building vertically. With a simple juxtaposition and pivot of structure the building becomes alive with light and energy. The new architecture binds the city, landscape and art into one synthetic experience.

Allied Works Architecture pM Site Plan Design 600x222 Musée Cantonal des Beaux Arts | Allied Works Architecture

Pôle Muséal Lausanne, drawing courtesy Allied Works Architecture


Founded by Brad Cloepfil in 1994 with the express purpose of employing the art of building to provide insight into our culture and environment, Allied Works has grown to a 40-person practice with offices in New York City and Portland, Oregon. At Allied Works, we work to discover and distill the elemental principles that drive each building project. It is this essence, revealed in the architecture, which resonates within a culture, creating new experience and understanding which endures through time.

The defining project of Allied Works is the Maryhill Overlook in the Columbia River Gorge, completed in 1998, the first of a series of five installation designs in diverse landscapes across the Pacific Northwest. It was followed by the design for Wieden + Kennedy Agency (2000), the transformation of an historic warehouse in Portland’s Pearl District into a world headquarters that has become a benchmark for adaptive reuse and workplace architecture.

In recent years the practice has gone on to complete a number of critically acclaimed projects, including the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (2003); the Dutchess County Residence Guest House (2007); the re-design of 2 Columbus Circle for the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City (2008); the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in the Dallas Arts District (2008); the award-inning University of Michigan Museum of Art (2009); and a new feature animation studio in Emeryville, California 2011).

Current commissions include the Clyfford Still Museum in Denver, Colorado; the National Music Centre of Canada; a private residence with a major installation by artist Doug Aitken located on 350 acres in Stanfordville, New York; the design of the East River Walk in New York City; a masterplan and new studio building for the Pacific Northwest College of Art; and the Vancouver Community Connector, a major civic space and structure, in Vancouver, Washington.

Allied Works has been the recipient of several honor awards recognizing the firm’s innovative and holistic approach to design, including a 2011 National Honor Award in Architecture from the American Institute of Architects for the University of Michigan Museum of Art.

In 2010 leading architecture critic and historian Sandy Isenstadt defined Cloepfil’s work as

aiming to create oases of legibility, spaces that can look out upon the simultaneous contrasts of the modern world to appreciate them from a place no less complex, but one that unfolds over time, with repeated visits, rather than at the speed of a camera shutter, thereby rewarding continued occupation rather than just dazzling the eye.

In May 2011, the firm released its first publication, Allied Works Architecture Brad Cloepfil: Occupation, which explores the ideas, processes and projects of the firm.

+ All images and drawings courtesy Allied Works Architecture

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Category: Architecture, Culture

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