Adapting to the Environment
The Bainbridge Island Museum of Art’s unique architectural design adapts to its environment. Matthew and his team designed BIMA to respond to its environment, embodying its symbolic role as a “living” community institution.
A Visual Transformation
The building appears to transform as the light changes; so at night it glows – during the day it is transparent. The south, water-facing side of the building has a skin that is comprised of eight 28’ tall curved glass walls, allowing pedestrians an unobstructed view into the museum.
As the sun moves around the building, louvers shift automatically, responding to the location and intensity of the sun in the sky. The louvers are controlled by a series of light sensors that trigger them to open and or close. This allows natural light to filter into the building without damaging the art.
Matthew calls it “the white box effect”- that feeling of disorientation you get in an all-white museum with no natural light. He steadfastly maintains that there is none better than natural light to view art and is enamored with the inherent dilemma that it is also this same light that risks damage to the artwork. To solve this dilemma the museum’s architecture includes long strip skylights on the uppermost level. This allows the gallery to transform throughout the day in response to the amount of light streaming through the windows. To avoid damage to the artwork, he designed curved baffled light shelves that float underneath the skylights. Natural daylight flows into the space through these skylights, is diffused as it bounces from the light shelves and disperses into the gallery to create a pleasant ambiance.