Brad Cloepfil

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Brad Cloepfil
Born 1956
Portland, Oregon
Nationality United States
Alma mater University of Oregon
Columbia University
Occupation Architect
Awards Progressive Architecture Award, American Institute of Architects National Honor Award, Business Week / Architectural Record Award
Practice Allied Works Architecture
Buildings Wieden+Kennedy Building, Seattle Art Museum expansion, Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, 2 Columbus Circle, Clyfford Still Museum, Booker T. Washington Arts Magnet, University of Michigan Museum of Art

Brad Cloepfil (born 1956) is an American architect, educator and principal of Allied Works Architecture of Portland, Oregon and New York City. His first major project was an adaptive reuse of a Portland warehouse for the advertising agency Wieden+Kennedy.[1] Since 2000, Cloepfil and Allied Works have completed cultural, commercial and residential projects including the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, the University of Michigan Museum of Art, the Dutchess County Residence Guest House and the Museum of Arts and Design. Current works include the Clyfford Still Museum in Denver, Colorado, scheduled to open in November 2011, and the National Music Centre of Canada in Calgary, Alberta, scheduled to open in 2013.[2]

Early career and influences[edit]

Brad Cloepfil was born and raised in the suburbs of Portland, Oregon and attended the University of Oregon. At the University of Oregon, he studied under professor Thomas Hacker, who had worked with Louis Kahn in Philadelphia.[3]

After receiving his Bachelor of Architecture in 1980, he went to Switzerland to work in the office of Mario Botta. During his time there, he observed the divergence in architectural styles between the United States and other locations where modernism was evolving such as Europe and Japan. Cloepfil later termed American postmodernism as a "diversional aberration", driven by commercialism rather than architecture.[4]

He then studied at Columbia University and earned his Masters of Architecture degree in 1985.[5] While in New York, Cloepfil took inspiration from the large-scale, minimalist sculptures of Richard Serra, and the work of land and installation artists of the 1960s and 1970s.[6] After nine years of teaching and practice in New York, California and Oregon, he founded Allied Works Architecture in 1994.

In addition to the influence of environmental art movements and architectural philosophy from architects like Botta and Kahn, Cloepfil credits the landscape and monumental works of engineering in the Pacific Northwest as a primary influence.[3][4]

Career at Allied Works[edit]

One of his earliest conceptual proposals was "Sitings: Five Reflections on Architectural Domain". The project proposed a series of site-specific interventions in diverse landscapes across the Pacific Northwest. This resulted in Cloepfil's first built project to receive national attention, the Maryhill Overlook. The Overlook is an 8’ x 150’ site installation located on a bluff in the Columbia River Gorge, adjacent to the Maryhill Museum of Art near Goldendale, Washington.[7]

Wieden+Kennedy Building[edit]

Allied Works' first major commission for the Wieden+Kennedy Building was awarded after the co-founder Dan Wieden sought out the designer of a local Portland bar called Saucebox, which was one of Cloepfil's early tight-budget projects. The project transformed an abandoned 1908 warehouse into the headquarters for an international advertising agency. In a state of extreme disrepair after decades as a sealed cold-storage facility, Wieden had doubts of ever moving in there, but Cloepfil convinced him that it was worth the effort. The Allied Works design turned the dark warehouse into a light-filled, open structure with new concrete and reclaimed Douglas-fir juxtaposed against the existing masonry and heavy timber frame. This project earned him several other projects from Wieden and would prove to be instrumental in further commissions.[8]

Contemporary Art Museum Saint Louis[edit]

Contemporary Art Museum Saint Louis

Cloepfil's firm was selected in a 1999 design competition for the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis over world-renowned architects such as Peter Zumthor, Herzog & de Meuron, and Rem Koolhaas.[4] The museum was sited next to an existing Tadao Ando building for the Pulitzer Foundation and completed in 2003. The program of the museum was open-ended in the model of European Kunsthalls and does not own a collection. Describing his approach, Cloepfil said “I wanted a space that is energized on its own terms but also would be inspirational for artists. In a noncollecting context, you hope that artists are intensely motivated to generate work for the space."[9]

Seattle Art Museum Expansion[edit]

Seattle Art Museum expansion

When the Seattle Art Museum expansion committee was seeking an architect, it was the chief curator of architecture and design at the Museum of Modern art in New York, Terry Riley that suggested they consider Brad Cloepfil based on the work done on Wieden+Kennedy.[8] In 2002, the Seattle Art Museum selected Allied Works for the expansion project, which more than doubled the museum's space, accommodated Robert Venturi's original design in 1991, and also included offices for Washington Mutual until the museum expands again.[10] Allied Works was selected over other finalists Polshek Partnership and Cooper, Robertson & Partners.[11]

Museum of Arts and Design[edit]

Museum of Arts & Design at 2 Columbus Circle, nearly completed in July 2008. A piece by David Dunlap's in the NY Times reveals that the appearance of the letter "H" was an owner driven design change.[12]

Also in 2002, Cloepfil won the redesign of Edward Durell Stone's 2 Columbus Circle[13] for the Museum of Arts and Design over architects Zaha Hadid, Toshiko Mori Architects, and Smith-Miller & Hawkinson Architects. Interest in landmarking this building began in 1996, soon after the building turned thirty years old and became eligible for landmark designation. In this year, Robert A. M. Stern included it in his article " A Preservationist's List of 35 Modern Landmarks-in-Waiting" written for the New York Times.[1]

Proposed changes to the building touched off a preservation debate joined by Tom Wolfe, Chuck Close, Frank Stella, Robert A. M. Stern, Columbia art history department chairman Barry Bergdoll, New York Times architecture critic Herbert Muschamp, urbanist scholar Witold Rybczynski, among others. When the building was vacated by the NYC Convention and Visitors Bureau in 1998 it was neglected, and remained unoccupied until the right to redevelop the building was awarded to the American Craft Museum (now known as the Museum of Arts and Design). Years later, plans to alter the building were called the erasure "of a rare American modernist."[14]

Cloepfil attempted to appease both sides and pay homage the building designed by Stone while at the same time, open it up for the public. He used the same massing and geometric shape as dictated by the city zoning regulations, but carved channels into the structure to bring in natural light. The redesigned building replaced the original white Vermont Marble with a glazed terra-cotta and glass facade. The aim behind the design was to underline the iconic presence of this 10-storey building and respond to the needs of the institution that will occupy it. The most noteworthy feature of the project is the terracotta and glass covering which evokes the principal theme of the collection, a look at different traditions in pottery art.[15]

The redesign of 2 Columbus Circle generated considerable attention and debate within the local community and architectural press, including opinion pieces written by Nicolai Ouroussoff,[16] Ada Louise Huxtable,[17] Paul Goldberger,[18] Witold Rybczynski[19] and Justin Davidson.[20]

Clyfford Still Museum[edit]

In 2007, Cloepfil and Allied Works won the competition to design the Clyfford Still Museum, which will sit adjacent and in contrast to Daniel Libeskind's design of the Denver Art Museum. He says that his goal is to provide the visitors an intimate experience with the artist and that the contrast of architectural styles between him and Libeskind's will create an interesting dynamic.[21] The museum, originally set to open in 2010, will open to the public on November 19, 2011.[22][23]


  1. ^ Blum, Andrew (July 25, 2007). "The Elementalist". Metropolis Magazine. Retrieved March 5, 2008. 
  2. ^ "About Allied Works Architecture". Allied Works Architecture. Allied Works Architecture. Retrieved October 4, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b Libby, Brian (January 12, 2003). "ART/ARCHITECTURE; A Neo-Modernist Is Having His Moment". The New York Times. Retrieved March 5, 2008. 
  4. ^ a b c Libby, Brian (January 2, 2002). "Interview with an Emerging Architect". ArchitectureWeek. Retrieved March 1, 2008. 
  5. ^ Brad Cloepfil bio
  6. ^ Horodner, Stuart (Spring 2005). "Brad Cloepfil". BOMB Magazine. Retrieved March 5, 2008. 
  7. ^ Cloepfil, Brad (2011). Allied Works Architecture/Brad Cloepfil: occupation. New York: Gregory R. Miller & Co. p. 439. ISBN 978-0-9800242-5-8. 
  8. ^ a b Farr, Sheila (December 4, 2005). "Museum Maker". The Seattle Times. Retrieved March 5, 2008. 
  9. ^ Russel, James (January 2004). "Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis". Architectural Record. Retrieved March 5, 2008. 
  10. ^ Farr, Sheila (May 1, 2007). "With a new home and new art, will museum gain new profile?". The Seattle Times. Retrieved March 5, 2008. 
  11. ^ Czarnecki, John (October 18, 2002). "Allied Works to design Seattle Art Museum expansion". Architectural Record. Retrieved March 5, 2008. 
  12. ^ "A New Face at Columbus Circle, but the Lollipops Remain". The New York Times. May 1, 2008. Retrieved April 26, 2010. 
  13. ^ ArchDaily: AD Classics: 2 Columbus Circle / Edward Durell Stone & Associates by Denim Pascucci (13 February 2014)
  14. ^ Hales, Linda (March 29, 2008). "At Columbus Circle, Going Round & Round Over a Building's Fate". Washington Post. Retrieved June 27, 2008. 
  15. ^ Template:Fajardo, Julio, and Mariana R. Eguaras. "Allied Works Architecture Museum of Arts and Design." New York Architecture = New York Architektur = Arquitectura De Nueva York. Barcelona: FKG, 2010. 60-65. Print.
  16. ^ Ouroussoff, Nicolai (September 26, 2008). "New York City, Tear Down These Walls". The New York Times. Retrieved September 28, 2008. 
  17. ^ Huxtable, Ada Louise (December 10, 2008). "Setting the Record Straight About Ed Stone and Brad Cloepfil". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2009-09-05. 
  18. ^ Goldberger, Paul (August 25, 2008). "Hello, Columbus". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2009-09-05. 
  19. ^ Rybczynski, Witold (January 14, 2009). "Goodbye, 2 Columbus Circle". Slate Magazine. Retrieved 2009-09-05. 
  20. ^ "Museum Date". New York Magazine. September 7, 2008. 
  21. ^ MacMillan, Kyle (November 27, 2006). "Clyfford Still Museum names Oregon firm to build in DAM's shadow". The Denver Post. Retrieved March 5, 2008. 
  22. ^ Hill, David (March 4, 2008). "Cloepfil Unveils Design for Clyfford Still Museum". Architectural Record. Retrieved March 5, 2008. 
  23. ^ "Clyfford Still Museum". Clyfford Still Museum. 2010. Retrieved October 17, 2010. 

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