Clyfford Still Museum \ Allied Works

• January 25, 2012

Clyfford Still  18 ALLIED WORKS 600x356 Clyfford Still Museum \ Allied Works

Clyfford Still Museum, image courtesy Allied Works | Photo by Jeremy Bittermann


New York City – Following an invited international competition in 2006, Allied Works was selected to design the Clyfford Still Museum, a single-artist institution devoted to the life and work of the 20th-century painter. Opened to the public on November 18th, the museum houses 94 percent of Still’s total creative output, spanning nearly six decades of work. It is one of the most comprehensive single-artist collections in the world.

Clyfford Still  16 ALLIED WORKS 600x400 Clyfford Still Museum \ Allied Works

Clyfford Still Museum, image courtesy Allied Works | Photo by Jeremy Bittermann

Allied Works’ design provides visitors with an intimate environment to experience the art of Clyfford Still. The building is a dense, cantilevered two-story building of richly worked concrete. Featuring nine light-filled galleries on its second level, as well as a library, educational and archival resources, a conservation studio, and collection storage on its first floor, the 28,500-square-foot museum creates a compelling environment in which to view and appreciate Still’s work and learn about his life and impact.

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Clyfford Still Museum, image courtesy Allied Works | Photo by Jeremy Bittermann

This new building for the work of the artist Clyfford Still provides an intensely intimate and introspective relationship with his art. The building is conceived as a nearly geologic experience, one that firmly holds both visitor and art in spaces amplified by natural light. The sequence from city, to park, to building creates a ceremony of repose that prepares the visitor for a personal and very physical relationship with this incredibly important body of drawings and paintings— whose power and presence are revealed in natural light for the first time.

Brad Cloepfil, architect

Clyfford Still  17 ALLIED WORKS Clyfford Still Museum \ Allied Works

Clyfford Still Museum, image courtesy Allied Works | Photo by Jeremy Bittermann

In spring 2012, Allied Works, in collaboration with Berlin-based publisher Hatje Cantz, will release a new book that presents the vision and realization of the museum from initial concepts to completion.


One first encounters the museum through a grove of trees and landscaped forecourt, which provides a place of contemplation, decompression, and transition from the museum’s surrounding urban context. Through the trees, the structure of the building is visible, consisting of cast-in-place architectural concrete walls with a variety of surface relief and texture. The façade features thin, vertical lines of concrete that project from the building’s surface in a fractured, organic, and random pattern, creating a rich surface that changes in the intense Denver sunlight and forms varied shadows across the building.

Clyfford Still  19 ALLIED WORKS Clyfford Still Museum \ Allied Works

Clyfford Still Museum, image courtesy Allied Works | Photo by Jeremy Bittermann

The entry is revealed beneath a canopy of trees, and visitors are welcomed into the museum by a low, long reception lobby. Visitors rise from the lobby and reception area toward the natural light falling from the galleries on the second floor. The museum’s second level features nine light-filled galleries, totaling approximately 10,000 square feet. Each gallery is distinctly defined and proportioned to respond to specific aspects and needs of the collection and helps trace the different phases of Still’s career in chronological sequence. Gallery heights vary to accommodate changes in scale and media; those with 17-foot, 6-inch-high ceilings showcase Still’s monumental Abstract Expressionist canvases, some of which extend to over 12 feet tall and 16 feet long, while smaller galleries with 12-foot ceilings create a more intimate viewing environment for the presentation of smaller-scale paintings and works on paper. Two outdoor terraces and an education gallery offer visitors a moment of reflection and investigation during the gallery sequence, and allow them to re-orient themselves with the surrounding and distant landscape. Moving between galleries, visitors are provided glimpses down into the collection storage and interpretive galleries on the first level.

Clyfford Still  20 ALLIED WORKS Clyfford Still Museum \ Allied Works

Clyfford Still Museum, image courtesy Allied Works | Photo by Jeremy Bittermann

The visitor’s experience of the collection is enlivened by natural light that enters the galleries through a series of skylights over a cast-in-place, perforated concrete ceiling. The geometry of openings in the ceiling creates an even field of soft and changing daylight in the galleries. Diffusing glass, motorized shades, and electric light give curatorial flexibility to the gallery spaces, helping to support different gallery configurations and the museum’s rotating exhibition program.

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Clyfford Still Museum, image courtesy Allied Works | Photo by Jeremy Bittermann

Upon completing the primary gallery sequence, visitors may descend back to the museum’s first level to explore the painting storage, archive, and exhibition spaces viewable from above. An open double-high corridor connects these facilities and serves as an exhibition hall allowing visitors to further their learning of the history and life of Clyfford Still. A “timeline” section of the corridor places the artist’s work in context with historic events and other artistic movements, and an “archive” hallway presents the everyday artifacts of the artist’s life and information about his painting technique and media. From this corridor, visitors are also able to view the collection storage rooms, and assess the number of paintings produced during the artist’s prolific career. A visible conservation lab and a research center offer visitors additional resources for furthering their knowledge of Still’s career. This open corridor speaks to the institution’s founding principle of unveiling this once-private and very personal collection to the public, as it invites a gradual immersion in the works of Still.

+ Project facts

Opening Date November 18, 2011

The museum is located at 1250 Bannock Street in Denver, Colorado, USA. The site is situated in the heart of Denver’s Arts District, near the Denver Art Museum by Gio Ponti and Daniel Libeskind, the Denver Public Library by Michael Graves, and the Colorado History Museum.

Permanent Collection:
The collection encompasses approximately 2,400 works created by Still from 1920 to 1980, the majority of which have never been exhibited, including 825 paintings, 1575 works on paper, three sculptures, archival materials such as letters, sketchbooks, and photographs.

Building Size:
28,500 square feet, including 10,000 square feet of exhibition galleries.

Special Features: Nine exhibition galleries, dducation facilities, library and archives, collection storage, conservation laboratory Building Materials Cast-in-place concrete walls with a variety of specialized wood-formed finishes. Concrete structural ceiling slabs. Wood panels and glazing systems.

Project Team:
Brad Cloepfil, Design Principal
Chris Bixby, Project Lead

Project Team:
Dan Koch, Brent Linden, Susan Barnes, Robin Wilcox, Scott Miller, Chelsea Grassinger, Andrew Hamblin, Jonathan Ledesma, Emily Kappes, Keith Alnwick

Reed Hilderbrand, Landscape Architecture
KPFF, Structural Engineering
ARUP NY, MEP and Lighting Design
Romani Group, Project Management
Saunders, General Constructor

Project Budget:
$29 million ($15.5 million construction cost)


Allied Works is an interdisciplinary architecture and design practice that operates from offices in New York City and Portland, Oregon. Founded by Brad Cloepfil in 1994, the practice has been defined by a deep concern for the landscape, human experience and craft, as well as the preservation and enhancement of the public realm.

Currently, Allied Works is working on a variety of projects at multiple scales. The largest of these is the design for the National Music Centre of Canada in Calgary, Alberta, a 135,000 sf performance, education, exhibition, and production space dedicated to advancing Canada’s musical heritage, which is scheduled to open in 2014. Allied Works is also working on the Vancouver Community Connector, a 14-acre urban park and freeway cap in Vancouver, Washington, just north of the Columbia River (Ongoing). Other building projects include the Main House at the Dutchess County Residence in Upstate New York (2012); a new arts building for Catlin Gabel School in Portland, Oregon (2013); master planning and a phased building redevelopment for the Pacific Northwest College of Art (2013); and a master plan and new facilities for Sokol-Blosser Vineyards (2013).

Smaller current works include the design of two new Sitings Projects, suburban and forest, which centers around the development of five specific design proposals or site interventions in diverse landscapes across the Pacific Northwest. The Maryhill Overlook, desert, was the first of the five completed in 1998. The practice is also engaged in a variety of furniture designs, including a collection of beds, tables, benches and cabinets for the Dutchess County Residence and a new conference table for Wieden+Kennedy.

Completed projects include a 155,000sf creative workspace for a feature animation company in California (2011); the NYC Loft, a major urban residence in Lower Manhattan (2010); the University of Michigan Museum of Art (2009); the Portland Heights Residence, sited on a ridge of the Tualatin Mountains with views of the Cascade Range, the Willamette River, and the city of Portland (2010); Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts located in the Dallas Arts District(2008); the Museum of Arts and Design on Columbus Circle in Manhattan (2008); the Guest House at the Dutchess County Residence (2007); a major expansion to the Seattle Art Museum, which provides space for 20 years of phased growth (2007); the Sun Valley Residence (2005); a master plan and Hearth Building for the Caldera Arts Center (2004); the Contemporary Art Museum in St. Louis (2003); the world headquarters for Wieden+Kennedy, which also includes the design of Bluehour Restaurant and the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, in the heart of Portland’s Pearl District (2000); and the PDX Gallery (1999).

Allied Works has been widely published in magazines and journals throughout the US, Europe and Asia. The practice released its first book, entitled “Allied Works Architecture Brad Cloepfil: Occupation” in April 2011. The book, a series of conversations with a selection of artists, scientists, thinkers and makers, explores past, present and future projects and focuses on the ideas and principles that form the basis of the practice’s work.

Allied Works and Brad Cloepfil have received numerous awards for their work from professional organizations, local officials, non-profits and the design press. Beginning with a Progressive Architecture Design Award for the Seattle Brewing Company proposal in 1996, the practice has gone on to receive more than 25 design awards, which include national honor awards from the Society of College and University Planning and the American Institute of Architects for the University of Michigan Museum of Art; a 2009 Northwest & Pacific Region Honor Award for the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts; Chicago Athenaeum Awards for the Sun Valley Residence and the University of Michigan Museum of Art; a Mayor’s Award for Design Excellence for 2281 Glisan, a mixed-use building located in an historic retail and residential neighborhood in Portland, Oregon; and Best Adaptive Reuse and Best Energy Efficiency Business Awards for the Wieden+Kennedy Headquarters in 2000. In 2009, the Guest House at the Dutchess County Residence was named a Record House in Architectural Record and was a Best New Private House finalist in Wallpaper*. Most recently, Allied Works was a finalist at the World Architecture Festival in Barcelona to receive design awards for the National Music Centre of Canada and the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec.


The Clyfford Still Museum was founded to promote public and scholarly understanding of the late artist’s work and legacy, through the presentation and preservation of the Clyfford Still and Patricia Still estates, donated to the City of Denver in 2004 and 2005 respectively, and totaling approximately 2,400 artworks. Considered one of the most important painters of the twentieth century, Still (1904 – 1980) was among the first generation of Abstract Expressionist artists who developed a new, powerful approach to painting in the years immediately following World War II. The Stills’ estates—now understood to contain 94 percent of the artist’s total output—as well as his extensive archive, have been sealed off from the public since 1980. The new museum, designed by Allied Works Architecture and situated in the heart of Denver’s Arts District, reintroduces Still’s body of work to the public for the first time in over three decades and provides an unprecedented opportunity to reflect on the full scope of Still’s legacy and his profound influence on American art.

+ All images courtesy Allied Works | Photo by JEREMY BITTERMANN

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Category: Architecture, Culture

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