Broad Museum

With the return of the fair weather, I’m able to take more frequent walks to the storefront shops along Grand River Avenue. Some new businesses have moved in during the winter months, and I enjoy seeing the activity that sunny days bring. This spring, however, a disturbing new building has finally taken outward form in East Lansing. Like with the newly budding trees, the Broad Art Museum developed through the winter and now is firmly rooted on the north edge of the campus.

I can appreciate and support any new construction and the uplifting appearance it gives. Since my family’s return to Michigan in 2007, the construction industry has endured a prolonged downturn. While I support the patrons’ strong vision and their desire place a landmark building on campus, few would be surprised to know that I do not like this building.

The building lacks Context of Place and of Purpose, exhibiting neither the character of Mid-Michigan nor the university museum – even one that is intended to house Modern art. I could charitably suggest that it does exhibit a Context of Period, but only insofar as architectural intellectuals believe that an out-of-balance, deliberately uncomfortable building symbolizes “the university’s trajectory into the future.”

Naturally, the building has its supporters; most have limited their praise to the hackneyed claim that, “It looks like sculpture.” On the contrary, it looks like a mishap. In fact, the strongest compliment I’ve heard is that it is much better than the other entries. Given the appearance of the winner, this does not exactly fill me with confidence.

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