Herzog & de Meuron

Form, color, movement are the most obvious of many outstanding aspects in Calder’s Art. We wanted to therefore avoid rather than adopt the use of those as possible design elements when beginning to conceive an architecture for the presentation of his work.

Since the given site between the Vine Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway does not have much charm, we felt that plants and gardens could help transform it successfully and turn itself into an attractive place for the people of Philadelphia, rather than simply adding another museum building to the already impressive collection of museums which are lining up along Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

All of that strongly impacted our design – which was actually an open-ended process rather than a finished concept based on a fixed program. A kind of conceptual path which made us carve out the ground rather than build forms and volumes above – we were looking for space to present Calder’s work in a new and unprecedented way.

That space in the making eventually grew into a whole sequence of different galleries and also rather unexpected spaces, niches and gardens; such as the apse and the quasi-galleries or open plan gallery, the sunken or vestige gardens. And not only galleries in the classical sense, but every corner and angle, every stair and corridor should be offering itself up as a place to put art.

We could only do this through a close dialogue with a client who was asking for such a new type of place for being with art: an interplay between art, architecture and people – challenging but with rich potential for the curators to display Calder‘s incredibly multifaceted work in ever new and unexpected ways.

Jacques Herzog, August 2022.



Project Team
Aurélien Caetano (Associate, Project Director)
Mehmet Noyan (Associate, Project Director)
Ninoslav Krgovic (Project Manager)
Antoine Foehrenbacher
Julia Hejmanowska
Josh Helin
Neda Mostafavi (Project Architect)
Daria Nikolaeva
Martin Jonathan Raub
Camilla Vespa
Rio Weber


Design Consultant : Herzog & de Meuron Basel Ltd, Basel, Switzerland
Executive Architect : Ballinger, The Ballinger Company, Philadelphia, USA
General Contractor: LF Driscoll
Special Collaborators
Landscape Designer: Piet Oudolf
Landscape Architect : Richard Herbert
Building Data
Site Area: 69'319 sqft, 6'440 sqm
Gross floor area (GFA): 17'695 sqft, 1'644 sqm
GFA above ground: 4'714 sqft, 438 sqm
GFA below ground: 12'981 sqft, 1'206 sqm
Net floor area: 12'023 sqft, 1'117 sqm
Number of levels: 2
Length: 183 ft, 56 m
Width: 36 ft, 11 m
Height: 16 ft, 5 m