Max Abramovitz, 1961; basement expansion, 1974
Gund Partnership, addition, 2001
Eero Saarinen's original Master Plan for Brandeis featured individual buildings atop the hilly, pastoral setting as temples, rejecting the tradition of closed collegiate quadrangles. Abramovitz' pavilion-like Art Museum, built in 1961, honors that vision with a classic International Style design featuring geometrical order, limestone cladding, and terrazzo pavements. The elevated entrance becomes a beckoning beacon of light after dark.
Gund's addition reinforces the identification of the original building as a temple, graciously taking a secondary position behind it. The interior design transforms the entry and emphasizes the play of light and dark, volume and void, as visitors follow a strengthened circulation path through the collection. Walls and surfaces are reduced to fundamental elements and planes. Exterior materials harmonize with the limestone cladding of the existing museum, with simple and elegant details. The combination of diffusion glass and daylight louvers in the clerestory and a luminous ceiling above the gallery provides uniform, controlled lighting for the widest range of installations from daylight to darkness. Echoing the original building, the addition glows at night with an exposed gallery wall for temporary works reinforcing the importance of the arts on campus.
With over 8,000 works, including paintings by such artists as Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg, and Andy Warhol, the museum's collection of modern and contemporary art is among the best in New England. In the wake of the 2009 global financial crisis, Brandeis announced that the Rose would be closed and its collection auctioned off to keep the University operating, but, faced with public outcry and lawsuits from donors, reversed this decision. The museum celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2011.
Sources: Gund Partnership, Rose Art Museum