ZGF and Carnegie Mellon unveil vision of expanded Institute for Contemporary Art in Pittsburgh

Loop and Pull

ZGF and Carnegie Mellon unveil vision of expanded Institute for Contemporary Art in Pittsburgh

The new Institute for Contemporary Art Pittsburgh on the corner of Craig Street and Forbes Avenue will be housed within the Richard King Mellon Hall of Sciences, designed by ZGF Architects. (Atchain/Courtesy Carnegie Mellon University)

ZGF Architects recently issued renderings of their new design for an addition to the Miller Institute for Contemporary Art in Pittsburgh (ICA Pittsburgh) housed within the Richard King Mellon Hall of Sciences at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). The new 29,000-square-foot addition is sited at the crossroads of Craig Street and Forbes Avenue, an iconic Pittsburgh arts and cultural destination. The Richard King Mellon Hall of Sciences is its own 338,900-square-foot building complex that will co-locate ICA Pittsburgh and CMU’s College of Science and the School of Computer Science.

Upon completion, the addition will nearly triple the institution’s current size, ICA Pittsburgh said in a press statement. It will feature space for galleries and public programming that foster cross-disciplinary exchange between fields and communities. A public plaza will front the intersection and host the building entry. The plaza will be used for future public art pieces, welcoming the community inwards. The building’s ground level will host classrooms, a gallery, and a restaurant; further emphasizing the building’s publicness.

“With a welcoming design and artist-focused mission, ICA Pittsburgh will serve as an advocate for new ideas and an aggregator of communities, providing new lines of inquiry about the most pressing issues of our time through the lens of contemporary art,” said ICA’s director Elizabeth Chodos. “Our new name reflects the institutional growth and impact that the museum has had over the course of the past two decades, recognizing both the critical links we have to our audiences throughout the City of Pittsburgh, as well as the role we play on a national and international level as a nimble art institute.”

The building’s distinctive facade is meant to evoke movement. (Atchain/ Courtesy Carnegie Mellon University)

The architects say that the new building complex consists of a loop and tower. The tower is where CMU’s College of Science and the School of Computer Science is located while the loop will host ICA Pittsburgh. ZGF further notes that the building’s distinctive facades that mesh the loop and tower create a dynamic streetscape that varies depending on which angle pedestrians approach the building.

The facade of the loop will be clad with locally manufactured, ultra-high performance concrete panels that rise three stories in a Fibonacci sequence, ZGF says. This gesture is meant to evoke Scotland’s national flower, the thistle. The panels are complemented by an aluminum trim that creates a lenticular effect which further emphasizes the idea of movement.

“Our practice prioritizes community connectivity and engagement, values that extend to all our work, but especially in the spheres of higher education, science, and technology, and in the public realm. The design of Richard King Mellon Hall of Sciences and the new ICA Pittsburgh—a civic space and its cultural cornerstone—reflects our ability to create meaningful spaces that support innovation and the people driving it,” said ZGF design partner Toby Hasselgren.

“Distinct yet interconnected, the ICA and theHall of Sciences are a case study in symbiosis—each is designed specifically for the needs of the discipline housed within but also to amplify collaboration across the shared footprint,” offered ZGF design partner Kate Mann.

Evening view (Atchain/Courtesy Carnegie Mellon University)

Since 2000, ICA Pittsburgh has hosted exhibitions by contemporary artists such as Dara Birnbaum, Jacolby Satterwhite, and Andrea Zittel, among many others. It was made possible by a generous gift from Regina and Marlin Miller, whom the addition is eponymously named after.

Plans for an addition to ICA Pittsburgh are twenty years in the making. The new wing is supported by a lead gift of $15 million from the Juliet Lea Hillman Simonds Foundation and Henry L. Hillman Foundation.

Construction on the new building is expected to begin in spring 2024. Its public opening is planned for 2027.