"Cloud, Crystal and Promenade" - The New York Times, Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Confluence Museum arrives with a 'Big Bang.'

Designed by the Viennese firm Coop Himmelb(l)au, the 180 million euro (about $225 million) building sits at the tip of a peninsula on one of the most spectacular sites in France, the confluence of the majestic Rhône and Saône Rivers. The entrance is encased in a glass-and-steel "crystal", and there are two stories of black-box galleries within the flowing shape of a faceted "cloud" that resembles a spaceship. The exhibition space hovers above a concrete podium that contains two auditoriums, conference rooms and service areas.

But the scheme that Coop Himmelb(l)au proposed was as much an urban plan for the peninsula as it was a sculptural landmark. The architects looped public promenades over the podium and along the riverfront into a park beyond, which they also designed (to be completed in the early spring). The museum and park are intended to deliver visitors to the city's new riverfront. Building, museum, park and peninsula work as an ensemble, drawing pedestrians and bicycles to "the great magnet of the site, the point of the confluence," said Wolf D. Prix, design principal and chief executive of Coop Himmelb(l)au. "People can walk freely under the building, maybe stopping for a coffee at the restaurant or buying a book at the bookshop."

by Joseph Giovannini