David Adjaye reveals designs for an interactive spy museum in Midtown

October 17, 2017

Renderings courtesy Adjaye Associates

One of the reasons for Ghanaian British architect David Adjaye’s rise to international fame is his work on renowned museums, from Washington D.C.’s National Museum of African American History and Culture to Denver’s Museum of Contemporary Art to the recently released plans for the Studio Museum in Harlem. And he’ll now add to that list, again in NYC, but this time the project is a bit on the lighter side. The Architect’s Newspaper reveals Adjaye Associates‘ renderings for SPYSCAPE, a spy museum and interactive experience that will open at 250 West 55th Street on February 16th. Spread over two floors in the office building, the exhibitions will be divided among individually designed pavilions, each one exploring one of the seven themes of spying. This format, according to the firm’s Associate Director Lucy Tilley, allowed them to “challenge the traditional museum typology with a design that straddles the physical and digital worlds.”

SPYSCAPE occupies a total of 60,000 square feet and, according to their site, uses a “collection of rare, authentic, spy artifacts” along with “storytelling and personalized experiences” to give visitors a chance to “explore their own spy skills to see how they can be relevant everyday, and even learn what kind of spy they’d be.” Some of the themes are surveillance, hacking, interrogation, and code breaking.

Apparently, it was developed with help from anonymous former station chiefs and intelligence agency directors (there’s even a testimonial from General David Petraeus on the site) — “from the team who cracked the Enigma, to the man who brought down the FBI’s most damaging traitor, to a teenager who hacked the CIA’s website.”

The surveillance pavilion is a giant drum covered in curved weathered steel panels

Adjaye’s overall design references the interiors of well-known spy organizations. Guests enter through a vaulted light canopy. This leads to a series of partially obscured circulation spaces that open to various multimedia experiences, which will include digital screens on the pavilions, walls, tables, and floors. To “create a sense of intrigue, curiosity and maybe a little dread,” according to the Architect’s Newspaper, the designers incorporated lighting techniques, transparent elements between floors, perforated screens, and bridges that continuously shift one’s focus. They’ve also used materials such as smoked glass, fiber cement, black linoleum, dark grey acoustic panels, and weathered steel to add to this mysterious feel.

The museum will also have a cafe, event space, and spy-themed book store. Tickets went on sale today and cost $39 for standard adult admittance. SPYSCAPE will be open until April 12, 2018.

[Via The Architect’s Newspaper]


Renderings courtesy Adjaye Associates

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