the museum of contemporary art chicago (MCA) has officially opened its redesigned building, which has been completely remodeled by johnston marklee. the LA-based architects, who are serving as artistic directors of the upcoming chicago architecture biennial, redesigned select public spaces of the museum to create three new areas connected by a dramatic new staircase. a ground floor restaurant named ‘marisol’ contains an immersive environment by artist chris ofili, while a ‘social engagement space’ on the second floor features an installation by design duo pedro y juana.

johnston marklee MCA chicago
all images by kendall mccaugherty, © hall+merrick

 

 

finally, a new third floor accommodates classrooms and a flexible meeting space. connecting each story is a new staircase, also designed by johnston marklee, that honors the MCA’s original iconic stairway. meanwhile, a vaulted ceiling that recalls the barrel vaults in the fourth-floor galleries also forms part of the redevelopment. coinciding with the institution’s 50th anniversary, the $16 million USD renovation converts a total of 12,000 square feet of interior space.

johnston marklee MCA chicago
the museum features a nre ground floor restaurant named ‘marisol’

 

 

to complement the interior renovation, the MCA assembled a creative team comprised of turner prize-winning british painter chris ofili, to create the restaurant environment; mexico city-based design duo pedro y juana, who created a geometric hanging-indoor garden oasis for the commons engagement space; and chicago chef jason hammel, who will take on the role of marisol’s chef.

johnston marklee MCA chicago
the space contains an immersive environment by artist chris ofili

 

 

‘we wanted the redesign to respect the history of the building’s grid-based rationalism but create a more natural flow that offers new opportunities for how audiences can interact with the new spaces,’ explains architect sharon johnston. ‘our approach focused on the visitor and the reciprocity between galleries and communal areas that blurs their boundaries and produces more active, multi-use spaces through the building. the idea is that the new spaces can be redefined by artists and audiences over time and will add a lightness and warmth to the building.’

johnston marklee MCA chicago
jason hammel will take on the role of marisol’s chef

 

 

‘johnston marklee understands the strength of our josef paul kleihues-designed building, and they carry a deep respect of history throughout their architectural practice,’ says madeleine grynsztejn, pritzker director of the museum of contemporary art chicago. ‘their legacy of stellar work — increasingly referenced as a leader in the field — resonates strongly with our interest in making thoughtful interventions to our building, including a new restaurant called marisol. with this redesign, our distinctive space becomes even more welcoming and flexible for our audiences.’

johnston marklee MCA chicago
a vaulted ceiling recalls the barrel vaults in the MCA’s fourth-floor galleries

 

 

the 2017 chicago architecture biennial is the largest architecture and design exhibition in north america, showcasing the transformative global impact of creativity and innovation in these fields. this year’s edition features over 141 practitioners from more than 20 countries addressing the 2017 theme ‘make new history.’ artistic directors sharon johnston and mark lee have selected architects and artists whose eye-opening creations will invite the public to explore how the latest architecture can and will make new history in places around the world. stay tuned as designboom brings you all the latest news and installations as the biennial opens its doors next week.

johnston marklee MCA chicago
the building’s new areas are connected by a dramatic new staircase

johnston marklee MCA chicago
the sculptural form honors the MCA’s original staircase

johnston marklee MCA chicago
a ‘social engagement space’ is found on the second floor

johnston marklee MCA chicago
the room features an installation by design duo pedro y juana

johnston marklee MCA chicago
the MCA’s new entrance from the street

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