The new Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at Washington State University brings art to the forefront of university life – and the entire Inland Northwest region. As the only dedicated fine art museum in a 230-mile radius, Design Principal Jim Olson sought to create a building with bold visual appeal that would engage and inspire. The resulting reflective façade, crafted to match WSU’s signature crimson red, establishes the museum as a beacon for the arts in the heart of the Pullman, Washington campus.
“The opportunity to create a building for the campus and the entire region that is dedicated to sharing the power of art, and the spirit of creativity that art embodies, means a great deal to me. It is a testament to the cultural commitment WSU holds for its family of students and the broader community.” ― Jim Olson, FAIA, Design Principal
Located on the site of WSU’s former public safety building, the new museum incorporates some of the old structure for an expanded footprint totaling 16,000 square feet. The design consists of two distinct parts: the first serves as an informal entry to the museum, functioning as a flexible, casual space for hosting temporary exhibits and events. A glass panel garage door opens the space to the larger campus, encouraging students to gather.
The second space is the “Crimson Cube,” a climate-controlled space that houses the formal galleries and is enveloped by the crimson façade. The mirrored glass façade reflects and weaves the building into the campus as much as it announces the presence of art, creating an ever-changing visual interplay. Intended to inspire and engage – much like the art housed within – the “Crimson Cube” reflects sky, campus and students themselves.
“Art is about creativity and the world needs creative thinking now more than ever. When students see themselves reflected in this building, they’ll see their lives through the lens of art.” – Jim Olson, FAIA, Design Principal
Project Team: Jim Olson, FAIA, Design Principal; Steven Rainville, AIA, LEED® AP, Principal; Stephen Yamada-Heidner, AIA, LEED® AP, Project Manager; William Franklin and Scott Viloria, Architectural Staff