An unlikely cultural center has emerged in Kennesaw, Georgia, 25 miles northwest of Atlanta, on the campus of Kennesaw State University: the Bernard A. Zuckerman Museum of Art. The two-story, 9,200-square-foot contemporary building, designed by Stanley Beaman & Sears, not only brought the first art museum to a campus of the University System of Georgia in over 30 years--KSU, founded as a junior college in 1966, is now Georgia’s third-largest public institution of higher education--it spurred the growth of a new cultural district in greater Atlanta. This was goal from the beginning, when KSU and Bernard A. Zuckerman, an industrialist and philanthropist, began the initiative to build a stand-alone museum uniting the university’s permanent art collection with its campus galleries program.
Although the building emerges from the side of a hill crowned by the much larger mass of the adjacent Bailey Performance Center, the museum boldly asserts itself with its striking black and white façade. Rotated off-axis, it directly addresses a main vehicular entry to the campus, heralding KSU’s new “Arts District.” The two-story glass atrium, highlighting the public circulation space and entrance, stands at the corner of the building, conveniently close to the parking lot and primary pedestrian path. The entrance, marked by an unobtrusive awning created by a subtle outward cant of the façade, takes advantage of being connected to its neighbor by doubling as an extended reception and pre-function space for Bailey’s 624-seat auditorium.
The exterior materials foreshadow the interior’s straightforward arrangement. Most of the façade at ground level consists of black concrete block, lending a sense of stability and rigidity to the edifice, to appropriately enclose the storage and support spaces. The second floor, which contains the gallery space, is veiled in light white metal panels, contrasting sharply with the heavy massing below. The parapet is crenellated in a pattern based on the Fibonacci sequence, adding texture while paying homage to the mathematical phenomena in nature, visual art and music.