SPYSCAPE, a david adjaye-designed spy museum, has opened its doors to the public in new york. located in midtown manhattan, the institution seeks to immerse visitors in the secretive universe of espionage through storytelling and customized experiences. the 60,000 square foot building comprises a series of pavilions, which each house exhibition spaces concentrated on seven distinct spy-themes. within the scheme, partially obscured circulation spaces open up into interactive multi-media environments.

all images by scott frances, courtesy of SPYSCAPE



SPYSCAPE features a range of stories, devices, and characters from WWII code-breakers, to the teenager who hacked the CIA’s website. the interactive experience allows visitors to try real spy challenges including lie-detection in interrogation booths, observation in surveillance missions, and agility in special ops laser tunnels. the venue encourages guests to discover their inner spy through an authentic profiling system (developed with a former head of training at british intelligence), and learn how spy skills can be used in everyday life.

real spy challenges include agility tests in special ops laser tunnels



adjaye associates’ design references the interiors of the significant spy organizations, with smoked glazed doors and interactive video walls used throughout. the remainder of the material palette includes fiber cement, dark gray acoustic paneling, and black linoleum. meanwhile, one of the exhibition pavilions takes the form of a weathered steel drum with curved paneling. a further sense of intrigue and discovery is established through varied lighting strategies, transparencies between floors, and screens and perforations designed to shift users’ vantage points.

pavilions house exhibition spaces concentrated on seven distinct spy-themes



‘it has been exciting to work with a client as truly innovative as SPYSCAPE,’ says lucy tilly, associate director of adjaye associates. ‘thanks to their forward-thinking vision, we have been able to challenge the traditional museum typology with a design that embraces state-of-the-art interactive technology to create a visitor experience that truly straddles the physical and digital worlds.’ tickets for the museum are now available via SPYSCAPE’s website.

one of the exhibition spaces takes the form of a weathered steel drum with curved paneling

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