Japanese architects lead M+ shortlist

The Japanese architects SANAA, Shigeru Ban and Toyo Ito are among a star-studded list of candidates to design the M+ museum in Hong Kong, it was announced Dec 10 by the West Kowloon Cultural Cultural District Authority (WKCDA). Scheduled for completion in 2017, M+ is envisioned as an interdisciplinary museum for 20th and 21st century visual culture, home to galleries, performance spaces, screening rooms, an education center, archive library, artist-in-residence studios and other facilities. The institution will be sited in a 14 hectare park on the waterfront of Victoria Harbour, with plans calling for a 60,000 square-meter building that can accommodate 15,000 square-meters of exhibition space. The other architects on the six-team shortlist are Herzog & de Meuron, Renzo Piano and SNOHETTA.

Reflecting the institution’s emphasis on its identity as a museum for the Hong Kong people, rooted in the city and its unique culture, the executive director of M+, Lars Nittve, said in a statement to the press, “We are thrilled with this phenomenal shortlist. Our concept for M+ is a museum built from the inside out around its content and core values. I am really looking forward to seeing designs that reflect this, that respond to the unique needs of a museum for visual culture here and beyond, and a design worthy of Hong Kong’s fast growing cultural scene.” Although it does not yet have a physical space, M+ is already active producing events and buying works for its permanent collection. The institution made waves earlier this year when it announced the USD 22.7 million acquisition of 47 works of Chinese contemporary art from the collection of Uli Sigg, with an additional 1,463 works donated outright by the Swiss collector.

Nittve and Sigg are both members of the M+ jury panel, which is headed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Rafael Moneo and also includes Kathy Halbreich of New York’s Museum of Modern Art and William Lim, the Hong Kong architect and art patron, among others. The finalist for the design of M+ will be appointed in June 2013.

Also Dec 10, the WKCDA announced that architects Bing Thom and Ronald Lu will partner to design the 13,800 square-meter Xiqu Centre, the West Kowloon Cultural District’s venue for Chinese Opera, scheduled to open in 2016. If everything proceeds on schedule, the Xiqu Centre will be the first of 17 core arts and cultural venues to open in the district.

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