The award-winning West Building is a beautifully crafted architectural structure with striking roof lines, a dramatic exterior, and soaring glass walls, nestled in a gently rolling garden. The superb collection of the Museum is showcased in an environmentally conscious building that creates a stunning contemplative setting, blending nature and art to create a memorable experience for all visitors.
Designed by Thomas Phifer and Partners, the 127,000-square-foot building literally places the collection in a new light. Natural light filters into all galleries through 360 custom-made skylights. Light subtly changes with the time of day, season, and each passing cloud. The coffered ceiling, interchangeable filters, and north-facing roof louvers ensure even and safe conditions for the collection. In full-spectrum natural light, more color and detail are evident in each work of art, making familiar masterpieces look more vibrant. Advances in daylight engineering make it possible for 21st-century art museums to return to natural light, giving life to the works within while connecting to the art of the landscape.
The lush sculpture gardens strike a balance between stunning landscape design and sustainable environmental standards. Drought-tolerant and native plant species are maintained by an irrigation system with progressive drought management. A 90,000-gallon cistern stores captured roof water and air-conditioning condensation. Three dramatic reflecting pools are replenished by the cistern as well. Bioretention zones retain storm water and are part of an overall storm-water management plan that meets current standards and improves water quality in the House Creek basin. The Museum Pond’s rocky swale and curvilinear terraces slow runoff and filter water through porous soils, wetland plants, and open water. The pond's design exposes the process of removing pollutants and reducing runoff as it enters the streams that flow into the Neuse River and ultimately to the coast.
The Museum Park
The interplay of art and nature extends into the Park, as does the environmentally conscious development. During site preparation 50 trees were transplanted, and as part of the ongoing Park management plan, invasive species were removed while native plant species were reintroduced. Forested areas are also in the process of being restored. Three miles of recreational trails—highlighting the intersection of art and nature—are integrated with the Capital Area Greenway system to encourage active living. One of the largest museum art parks in the world, the NCMA’s Park includes over a dozen works of art amid 164 acres managed in an environmentally progressive and sustainable manner.