In 1999, six architects were selected as finalists for the Nelson-Atkins expansion project. They were encouraged to view the north side of the Museum as the best site for the expansion, and most presented preliminary designs that followed that suggestion, with large buildings that used the original Nelson-Atkins as a backdrop.
One architectural firm, however, broke all the rules. Steven Holl Architects presented a design that ran along the east side of the Museum, tumbling into the Kansas City Sculpture Park and incorporating landscape and light as key elements in his overall plan. Rather than block the grand north façade of the original building, Holl’s design found its own space along the gently sloping eastern edge of the Museum’s 22-acre campus.
His design was a daring and unexpected solution to the Museum’s needs, balancing innovation with respect for the beloved Nelson-Atkins neoclassical building. Steven Holl Architects was the clear choice of the Architectural Selection Committee and was selected as the Bloch Building architect in July 1999.Considered one of America’s most important architects, Steven Holl is recognized for his ability to blend space and light with great sensitivity. He specializes in seamlessly integrating new projects into contexts with particular cultural and historic importance.
Steven Holl Architects has designed cultural, civic, academic and residential projects in both the United States and internationally. The Kiasma Museum of Contemporary is generally considered to be his masterpiece. Most recently, The School of Art & Art History at the University of Iowa received the AIA’s 2007 Institute Honor Award, their highest award for architecture.
Steven Holl Architects continues to work on a variety of projects such as the Linked Hybrid (Beijing, China); The Nanjing Museum of Art & Architecture (Nanjing, China); Herning Center of the Arts (Herning, Denmark), Cité du Surf et de l’Océan (Biarritz, France), Sail Hybrid (Knokke-Heist, Belgium), Vanke Center (Shenzhen, China); and the NYU Department of Philosophy in New York City.