Designing Buildings That Speak to the World

(New York Times) — From the converted industrial space of the Tate Modern in London to the polygonal, copper-clad de Young in San Francisco, the Swiss architects Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron have broken new ground in museum design. They come to the trade naturally: Encounters with visual artists were crucial to the development of an aesthetic that is as inventive and stylish as it is sleek and restrained.

But museums by no meins make up the bulk of the partnership’s work; Herzog & de Meuron has established itself as one of today’s most highly sought-out firms for the way it reimagines private residences, hospitals, schools and other public spaces around the world.

Recent work has included high-profile urban projects like the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg, Germany, and the luxury residential tower at 56 Leonard Street in Manhattan, which features a sculpture by Anish Kapoor at the building’s base. The firm is also at work on the modern and contemporary art center M+ in Hong Kong, scheduled to open next year; the 20th-century art museum Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin; and a new site for the Vancouver Art Gallery in Canada.

The architects have distinguished themselves by finding specific solutions for every project. For the Schaulager, a contemporary art warehouse that opened on the outskirts of Basel in 2003, Herzog & de Meuron faced the challenge of designing a building that both exhibits and stores artwork for research purposes. Through Aug. 26, the site is home to “Bruce Nauman: Disappearing Acts,” a large-scale retrospective that arrives at the Museum of Modern Art and MoMA PS1 in New York in October. […]