One of the most internationally renowned architects of our time — who designed arguably the most controversial building in town — Shigeru Ban will give a talk tonight at the Aspen Art Museum as part of its “Whole Celebration.”
Ban’s architectural statement at the corner of Spring and Hyman streets was completed and opened to the public five years ago this weekend. The five-year anniversary of the museum’s new home is one part of the 24-hour celebration that kicks off at 5 p.m. today. (Ban’s lecture also is slated to commence at this time). The Whole Celebration also commemorates 15 years of ArtCrush, the museum’s biggest fundraising event, as well as 40 years as an institution.
Formerly known as the “Aspen Center for the Visual Arts,” the art museum opened inside the Hunter Creek Power Plant in the summer of 1979.
The same year that the Aspen Art Museum opened in its new, 33,000-square-foot home, Ban was named the winner of the Pritzker Prize, which is the most-prestigious prize in modern architecture. It is often referred to as the Nobel Prize of architecture.
Aspen Art Museum CEO Heidi Zuckerman was instrumental in fundraising and advocating for the art museum’s downtown home, which was highly contentious. The building was approved in fast-track fashion by way of a lawsuit settlement between the city and developers, who had proposed a mixed-use building on the site that council had previously turned down.
The case was settled, and Zuckerman ended up raising more than $120 million to commission Ban to design and execute the structure.
“It’s not a secret that it was a big fight to get this project done,” Zuckerman told the Daily News earlier this year.
Whether you are an avid supporter or staunch critic of the AAM, there is no denying Ban’s architectural feats or his extensive humanitarian efforts.
In 2015, the year after he completed the Aspen Art Museum, Ban started a project to rebuild homes for earthquake victims.
What exactly the architect will discuss at the museum remains to be seen, though it will offer an opportunity for the community to put politics aside and learn about the building’s concept from the architect himself.