In 2016 the Lima Art Museum launched an open competition for the design of its new contemporary art wing. The project will include a library, gallery spaces, classrooms, workshops, a café, a public plaza, access to a future metro station, and a landscape proposal for the park where the museum is located. The project goal was to establish the MALI as a new civic and cultural platform in the city, as well as a referent for future competitions regarding the design of public spaces in Lima.  MMA’s proposal was selected as one of 13 projects from the 387 international submissions that received honorable mention recognition from the jury as “essential during the deliberation process, for their originality, daring or because they helped shape the discussion.”


Beginning at the scale of the city and extending through the individual’s experience of art, the Michael Maltzan Architecture (MMA) design for the New Contemporary Art Wing and Exposition Park engages the urban context to imagine an enriched confluence of existing and anticipated connections. In the park, access points extending from greenway spaces in the Lima District connect a network of pedestrian paths. Lines radiating from the roundabout at Paseo Colon reorient the park around Plaza Miguel Grau to create a public gathering space, a familiar radial gesture precedented throughout the Lima District. Hard surface plazas engage pedestrian access from the street intersections at the perimeter, and permeable courtyards within the park create lush, intimate, open spaces.  Curved allays of dappled light from overhead tree canopies replace the existing, irregular axes within the park, while bands of porous surfaces and diverse native plantings reconstruct the groundscape.  The historic buildings float as independent objects organized by new spatial relationships and revealed through meandering and discovery.


Similarly, The New Contemporary Art Wing is an object hovering above a new excavated ground plane.  A continuous park and Metro plaza carve into the site to extend the landscape from Exposition Park, through the new Metro station below Paseo Colon, and into Dammert Park.  The building is suspended within the voided ground to capture a unique, formal identity without distracting from the historical significance of the Exposition Palace.  The lobby of the Exposition Palace is realigned to create an axis extending onto the new arts plaza.  Developed as an expanded gateway to the park, the arts plaza can be either a program or passage, functioning as a gate to the park, artwork installation platform, public market, or outdoor MALI event space.  A large glass freight elevator pierces through the park, classroom, plaza, and gallery to bring visitors from the Exposition Palace to the New Contemporary Art Wing.  An ancillary elevator along Avenida Garcilaso de la Vega brings new artworks directly to storage at the gallery level.


With a variety of schedules and activities, the public components of the museum wing each operate independently to expand public accessibility and engagement with Peruvian art.  The cafe, library, education lobby, and gallery lobby are accessed from the excavated park and Metro extension. Above, flexible classrooms, outdoor making spaces, and informal lounges fill the floating object and connect existing learning spaces from the Exposition Palace to the new library in the sunken park below.


The visitor’s choreographed experience of art and the museum’s curatorial needs are both reflected in the architectural expression and programmatic organization of the building. Clearstories bring circulation and diffuse natural light into the gallery level from the park plaza above.  Two generous galleries, ranging from four to twelve meters in height, can be flexibly divided into smaller exhibition spaces to house innovative artworks from contemporary Peruvian and international artists alike.  In addition to two visitor entries, each gallery has direct access to artwork preparation and storage to separate artwork and visitor circulation.

LOCATION / Lima, Peru
TYPE / International design for a new contemporary art museum addition
SIZE / 6,000 square meters
AWARDS / Honorable Mention
COMPETITION TEAM / Michael Maltzan Architecture & Arup Los Angeles