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Columbia University Digital Knowledge Ventures The Architecture and Development of New York City with Andrew S. Dolkart
image The Public Realm Modern Museums and Concert Halls
The Rose Center
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Modern Museums and Concert Halls
The Rose Center
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The idea of using architecture as a way of defining an institution, which is evident at the Whitney Museum and at the Guggenheim and at Lincoln Center, is something that's very, very prominent throughout the twentieth- and into the twenty-first-century design of institutional and public buildings [and] is still with us. This is most evident at the Rose Center for Earth and Space, the new planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History, a masterpiece by James Stewart Polshek and Partners, which opened on the millennial eve in the year 2000, a building that uses transparency and geometry to create an image for the Museum of Natural History.

The museum has a whole history of commissioning important works of architecture that have symbolized the building; in the late nineteenth century it had a great Romanesque building that symbolized the museum. By the 1930s the Roosevelt Memorial triumphal-arched entrance on Central Park West was a symbol of the building. And then at the dawn of the twenty-first century this geometric sphere set within a transparent cube becomes a symbol. And it uses traditional ideas, the cube and the sphere, but in a very, very modern way, using the latest in glass technology, using what's called water white glass, which is for the first time glass that is almost 100 percent transparent, so that you can see the globe inside and you can see the planetarium and the sculptures of planets, and of course you will be welcomed in, it draws you to come in to the museum.

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