Museum of Sex

Museum of Sex in New York, NY by SHoP Architects, 1999

The following text and images are by SHoP Architects (Sharples Holden Pasquarelli), based in New York City, for their Museum of Sex project to be built in New York City.

The first Museum of Sex in the United States will be in New York City, occupying an "L-shaped" corner site with views of the Empire State Building. The extremely narrow floor plan suggested the use of a layered organizational device, and the generative concepts of organic form, tactile expression, exposure and concealment led to thinking of this device as "skin".

The skin is an undulating topography composed of layered surfaces with specific functions. The particular placement and curvature of the walls are designed for optimal performance as dictated by program requirements such as circulation, exhibition or lighting. The innermost wall conceals necessary building infrastructure within a continuous sculptural form. The exterior wall is a play of several translucent layers, sometimes peeling apart to allow vertical movement, light filtration or to house displays.

Thus, the cross section of the "skin" is not limited to an enclosing envelope, but instead encompasses the entire thickness of the space. This section is revealed on the front elevation, where the layers slice through the clear glass facade and become monumental banner signs at the entrance.