June 4, 2019 - Memphis Brooks Museum of Art - Herzog & De Meuron to design major new building, overlooking Mississippi River
e-flux Architecture
June 4, 2019
June 4, 2019

Memphis Brooks Museum of Art

Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron. Photo: Marco Grob.

Herzog & De Meuron to design major new building, overlooking Mississippi River


Herzog & De Meuron to design major new building, overlooking Mississippi River


Memphis Brooks Museum of Art has selected the Pritzker Prize-winning firm Herzog & de Meuron, Basel/New York, as design consultant for its new 105 million USD facility overlooking the Mississippi River in downtown Memphis. The Memphis-based archimania will serve as architect of record. The news was announced by the institution, the oldest and largest art museum in Tennessee and a cultural anchor for a tri-state area that includes Arkansas and Mississippi.

The new Brooks will be the jewel in the crown of a newly animated and accessible Memphis riverfront. As conceived by the Chicago-based firm Studio Gang, a plan to connect six miles of the riverfront with parks, walking paths, and civic and recreational structures is underway, commissioned by the Mayor’s Riverfront Task Force in partnership with Memphis River Parks Partnership.

“We've selected Herzog & de Meuron to partner with us because we respect their design philosophy: each project design evolves from a different and fitting formal response to the site and is then realized with unrivaled sensitivity to materials and craftsmanship,” says executive director Emily Ballew Neff.

High atop a natural stone bluff, the new museum will face westward towards the Mississippi River and the Arkansas floodplain. At 112,000 sq. ft., about 25% larger in size than the existing facility, the program provides expanded galleries and education-related spaces as well as a sculpture garden for civic gatherings and public performances.

Says Mayor Jim Strickland, “For the first time in decades Memphis is restoring its connection to the Mississippi River waterfront and the public promenade our founders envisioned there. In our bicentennial year, we are again embracing the Mississippi River as our greatest asset.”

The architect selection committee’s unanimous decision came after more than a year of planning and research entailing a comprehensive internal planning step and public engagement sessions. 22 firms responded with detailed submissions. The final short list of candidates included Diller Scofidio + Renfro, New York; Johnston Marklee, Los Angeles, Cambridge, MA; and Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), Rotterdam and New York. 

“We are thrilled to have been selected to work on the new Brooks,” says Jacques Herzog, co-founder of Herzog & de Meuron. “In writing the next chapter for the Brooks Museum and its collection, we have to look to the future, while being cognizant of a rich history.” Adds Ascan Mergenthaler, Senior Partner and Partner in Charge, “The Brooks on the bluff has the potential to become a truly civic building.”

Memphis Brooks Museum of Art’s new home occupies a downtown corner plot on land once inhabited by the Chickasaws and, before that, the mound builders (Mississippian Culture). In the 19th century, the district grew as Memphis’s old Cotton Row. The Brooks will be only a few minutes’ walk away from the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Hotel, a complex of museums and historic buildings that tells the story of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States from its roots in slavery, Reconstruction, and the Jim Crow era to the present day.

Herzog & de Meuron is regarded as one of architecture’s most influential practitioners. Named #8 in design nationally in Architect Magazine’s annual Architect50 rankings, the Memphis-based archimania is a noted innovator in sustainable design.

The permanent collection of the Brooks ranges from antiquity to the present day. The permanent collection of the Brooks Museum ranges from antiquity to the present day, highlights including the Samuel H. Kress Collection of Renaissance and Baroque paintings; 18th-century British portraiture; British and American decorative arts; American art by Winslow Homer, Georgia O’Keeffe, Thomas Hart Benton, Romare Bearden, and Marisol, among others; photographs by William Eggleston and Ernest C. Withers, among others; contemporary art; and work by regional artists. For the last 15 years, the museum has devoted 96% of its acquisition funds to building an important collection of African-American art.


Press contact
Anne Edgar, anne [​at​] anneedgar.com / T 646 567 3586

Memphis Brooks Museum of Art
Share - Herzog & De Meuron to design major new building, overlooking Mississippi River
  • Share