From a final list of five prominent architects, Kyu Sung Woo Architects Inc. (Cambridge, Massachusetts) was selected by Johnson County Community College to design the Nerman Museum.
South Korean native Kyu Sung Woo first gained international prominence when he was chosen to design the 1988 Olympic Village in Seoul. Subsequently, he has designed the Ho Am Art Museum and Whanki Art Museum in South Korea, the Arts of Korea Gallery at The Metropolitan Museum in New York City, the Asian Culture Complex in South Korea, and many other commissions in America and abroad. For the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Woo worked with the Kansas City firm of Gould Evans LLC, which served as the local project architectural firm.
Woo’s design for the Nerman demonstrates his philosophy that a museum should be experiential – both in viewing art and experiencing the building itself. His incorporation of skylights, gallery clerestories, windows and glass lobby walls provides museum visitors with “a connection to time and a connection to nature.”
Interior Nerman Museum spaces are linked to the exterior with expansive glazing at the ground floor lobby and strategically placed windows on the upper level, which connect to the distant landscape and provide sweeping views. Controlled natural lighting is featured throughout upper- and lower-level galleries, except in the museum’s special “black box” new media gallery.
The exhibition spaces are connected by dramatic, monumental stairways bathed in natural light, which highlight one's ascension to serene upper-level galleries. Signature gallery spaces are identified as a volume dynamically cantilevered from the core of the museum structure. The building is clad in a pristine veneer of white Kansas limestone. Gray Spanish limestone and quartersawn oak gallery floors define the elegant interior spaces.