Friday, May 25, 2001

Museum for a new century

Contemporary center for contemporary art

By Jackie Demaline
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[photo] Participants in Thursday's groundbreaking at the Lois & Richard Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art could take a swing at a pinata filled with keepsakes of the occasion.
(Gary Landers photo)
| ZOOM |
        Thursday's clouds broke long enough for the sun to shine on the groundbreaking for the Lois & Richard Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art.

        When the center opens in 2003 at the northwest corner of Sixth and Walnut streets downtown, it will be the first art museum to be built in Cincinnati since the Cincinnati Art Museum in the 1880s.

        It's also the first U.S. museum to be designed by a woman.

        The 82,000-square-foot center by architect Zaha Hadid of London will rise in a collection of what Newsweek has described as “dizzying diagonals” of concrete and glass.

        It will be the first free-standing home for the Contemporary Arts Center, founded in 1939. Its current space is a block away at Fifth and Walnut.

        Ms. Hadid said she is “very pleased” with the outcome of her challenge to find the right design for the small lot. One of her solutions was to create an “urban carpet” that will continue the streetscape into the lobby.

   Facts about the new home of the Contemporary Arts Center:
   • Name: The Lois & Richard Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art.
   • Money raised: $34.6 million.
   • Completion date: 2003.
   • Location: Sixth and Walnut streets, downtown.
   • Firsts: First art museum built in Cincinnati since the 19th century; first U.S. museum designed by a woman.
        She received the biggest round of applause from the crowd of several hundred attending the noontime, street-party-style groundbreaking that featured models of the new center hung as pinatas overhead.

        It's been a week of celebration for the center, the host of contemporary art exhibits including those by Robert Mapplethorpe, Yoko Ono, David Byrned, Lorna Simpson and Jim Dine. On Wednesday, CAC announced it had raised $34.6 million, exceeding its $34.1 million goal.
       “So far the focus seems to be so much on brick and mortar. I'll be thrilled if what happens inside is as exciting as the outside,” local artist Jay Bolotin said Wednesday at the groundbreaking.

        “(CAC director) Charles Desmarais and (his curatorial staff) have their heads in the right place. I know that once it's up they'll put in something that deserves the building.”

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