The ICA is the first museum to be built in Boston in 100 years. The 65,000 sf building includes temporary and permanent galleries, a 330 seat multi–purpose theater, a restaurant, bookstore, education/workshop facilities, and administrative offices. It straddles the competing objectives of a dynamic civic building for public programs and an intimate, contemplative environment for viewing art.
The site is bound on two sides by the Harbor Walk, a 47–mile public walkway. The Harborwalk is used as a civic surface that extends up to form the public grandstand, flattens into the theater stage, and wraps the surfaces of the theater extending into a horizontal tray that holds the gallery and shelters the grandstand. The waterfront is both a great asset for the museum and a distraction from its inwardly focused program.
A choreographed passage through the building dispenses the visual context in small doses. Upon entry, the view is compressed under the belly of the theater, then scanned by the glass elevator, used as a variable backdrop in the theater, denied entirely in the galleries, and revealed as a panorama at the crossover gallery. The mediatheque suspended under the cantilever edits the context from view, leaving only the texture of water. The Institute of Contemporary Art is a collaboration with Perry Dean Rogers as Associate Architect.