Extension of Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art by Steve Holl

Museum extensions are a tricky predicament and something of a teeth-cutting exercise for any architect. Steven Holl Architects’ extension to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City has torn up the rule book of established codes of extension conduct and transformed the existing building into one of the most exciting exhibition spaces we’ve seen. 

The existing Nelson-Atkins museum is a ceremonial, classical structure – all colonnades, porticos and grand facades, sitting atop the undulating hillocks looking down on Kansas City. When in 1999, Steven Holl Architects entered the competition to build a suitable extension, it was the only firm daring enough to tamper with the existing façade and not hide its proposed structure in the shadow of the grand building. And it clearly paid off.

The Bloch Building, as the extension is called, consists of five glass ‘lenses’ that rise up in front and to the side of the original museum in striking contrast to its heavy stone material. Rolling away from the museum, echoing the landscape, it is the luminary effect of the glass that is the most striking feature. By day, the multiple layers of glass diffuse and refract light into the galleries creating an otherworldly atmosphere within, whilst by night, the glass structures glow, flooding light across the sculpture gardens they encircle.

Quite apart from the external visual effect of the extension, the five new galleries have added 70 per cent more gallery space, the unveiling of which marks the final stage of the reinstallation

Architect: Steve Holl


  • Marc Fink says:

    Bendheim Wall Systems is proud to have supplied the LINIT channel glass, manufactured in Germany by Lamberts, forming the five glass lenses of the Bloch Building at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. The Bloch Building is easily the biggest channel glass project in North America.

    LINIT is the channel glass featured in two other Steven Holl projects: the new Swiss Embassy residence designed with Justin Rüssli, and the Central Section of Higgins Hall at Pratt Institute, in collaboration with Rogers Marvel Architects. Both projects won 2007 AIA NY Chapter Architecture Honor Awards, as did Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s Boston ICA, also using LINIT.

    The Solar channel glass installed on the Bloch Building (and the Swiss Embassy residence) is a proprietary fine-mesh texture only from Lamberts. The glass appears white because the low iron content removes the pale green cast typical to thick glass, and the planks are sandblasted and insulated with an acrylic interlayer called Okapane (also used at Higgins Hall). The SGCC-certified and 100% heat soak tested planks – testing unique to the LINIT brand of channel glass – are made to a custom width broader than a standard channel glass profile.

    Why is LINIT channel glass installed on all these stellar projects? No other channel glass provider gives as much critical support to the architect and valuable assistance to the glazier as Bendheim Wall Systems does. To use LINIT channel glass to enhance your distinctive designs, call me at 800-221-7379 X 223 or email me at [email protected].


    Marc Fink

  • Pakinam says:

    very nice pictures which to inform me with the new

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