Maya Lin’s design is inspired by the tangram, an ancient Chinese mathematical puzzle. This simple yet intricate puzzle translates to a metal panel facade as well as interior volumes connecting exhibition floors, classrooms, and event spaces. The shifting planes and perforated panels allow daylight to strategically enter the exhibition spaces and larger openings to light workspaces and classrooms as well as create views.

Her design also takes inspiration from vertical Chinese landscape paintings. Rising from a stone plinth, the solid body of the building, like a tree-covered mountain, disappears into a cloud-like lattice that holds a two-story lecture hall/auditorium.

The façade floats off the ground, welcoming visitors through a glass wall into a light-filled atrium. From there, the public can ascend through the building for various uses: from a casual lunch in the canteen to school children participating in hands-on learning to international visitors exploring the museum’s collection to families researching their genealogy.


Begin the journey home with MOCA.

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