The Modern Wing at the Art Institute of Chicago stands amongst Chicago’s landmark buildings that include Aqua and the Chicago Theater. Open and airy and yet, solid and robust, the famous architectural monuments share characteristics that hold up to the extreme weather of the windy city. The Modern Wing by the architects, Renzo Piano, boasts a steel and glass facade that permits light throughout the 264,000 square foot addition; making the art institute one of the largest museums in the US.
Connecting two worlds - a sculpture garden in the heart of Millennium Park and a courtyard designed by Gustafson Guthrie Nichol - is a steel bridge made of framed, woven Tigris GKD metal fabric; known as the Nichols Bridgeway. The overpass exploits the beautiful Chicago skyline by providing visitors with a breathtaking vantage point between Michigan Avenue and Columbus Drive in downtown Chicago. The stainless steel woven metal along the walkway of the bridge offers both safety and security and an element of elegance to match the rest of the structure. The maintenance-free material is chosen for its aesthetic, reflective, and transparent qualities in addition to functional attributes. The Tigris is also incredibly durable and can withstand winds up to 146 miles per hour - ideal for a city with frequent strong winds between tall buildings.
The Modern Wing displays the museum’s newest contemporary art going back to 1960. This collection includes new photography, video, and architecture and design galleries. Also making up the new wing are temporary exhibit spaces, shops, classrooms, a cafe and a restaurant on the third floor overlooking Millennium Park. Visitors can revel in original renderings from Frank Lloyd Wright, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and Bruce Goff or explore early 20th-century European artists like Picasso and Matisse.
The three story structure is intricately in tune with the cycles of the sun, permitting ample daylight throughout with complete natural light on the highest level. The italian architects chose materials that play with light, shade, and sound to accommodate the ideal atmosphere for the enjoyment of the art exhibits inside. Aluminum leaves create a cantilever shelter that perform as tree canopies; actively screening sunlight throughout the day. Anchoring the metal and glass materials used by the architects is natural limestone throughout the entire construction of the museum.