The project by Herzog & de Meuron and Piet Oudolf that will host Calder’s works in Philadelphia

Alexander Calder’s hometown is preparing to exhibit his works in a new way, thanks to a symbolic building surrounded by a very special garden.

Herzog & de Meuron and Dutch garden designer Piet Oudolf collaborated to create Calder Gardens in Philadelphia, which will house works by the American sculptor Alexander Calder, known for his “mobiles”. The Swiss studio designed a 17,695-square-foot two-story building, much of which is hypogeum, while Oudolf’s gardens will surround it. The project will occupy a total of 69,319 square feet and it will be located in Downtown Philadelphia.

“We were looking for space to present Calder’s work in a new and unprecedented way,” said Herzog & de Meuron co-founder Jacques Herzog, and continued: “Every corner and angle, every stair and corridor should be offering itself up as a place to put art”. A primary structure, covered in metal cladding, will protrude from the hillside and, according to Herzog & de Meuron, it will “blur the boundaries between architecture and the natural world – the material and the immaterial”. Two large stone plinths will then be placed at the sides of a main cave-shaped entrance, which will lead visitors into a double-height space, with a large metal sculpture in the center.

Calder’s works will be also positioned in the gardens, to provide many different contexts in which to see the art. “My hope is that people will take the time to stand still and think here, to fully experience these elements together and have an emotional reaction that stays with them long after their visit,” said Oudolf, for whom also the horticultural design in this case must also serve the works of art.

The project will break ground in 2023 and is expected to be completed by 2024.

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