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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MOCA’s Genealogy Center will be a unique center of learning where individuals and families can advance their understanding of their family’s history and the role their ancestors played in shaping American history, contemporary America, and their own lives. The Genealogy Center, located on Level 2 of the new national MOCA, will attract local and visiting family history researchers, scholars, and patrons that want to gain the tools that can help them to discover their ancestral story. Through a dynamic multi-media presentation of ancestral stories and artifacts, as well as access to MOCA’s archival records and research rooms, visitors and scholars will have the opportunity to advance their studies and knowledge of Chinese American ancestry.
Located on Level 8, MOCA will house a 199-seat double-height theater for performances, lectures, and events. The theater space will have glass facing on both the east and west sides, with double blackout shades to adapt the theater for stage performances. Visitors will enter the theater from the Level 7 theater lobby, which expands out to two outdoor garden spaces.