Shining Example: Allied Works Architecture

A new exhibition takes us into the creative processes of the architects behind buildings like New York's Museum of Art and Design and the Seattle Art Museum.

The founding principal of Allied Works Architecture, Brad Cloepfil designs powerful buildings such as the Museum of Arts and Design, in New York, and the Clyfford Still Museum, in Denver, with simple monumental forms and robust materials. Now “Case Work,” a traveling solo exhibition, promises to offer a glimpse at the firm’s unusual creative process. Running January 24 through April 17 at the Denver Art Museum (100 W. 14th Ave. Pkwy., 720-913-0130; denverartmuseum.org), it displays Cloepfil’s elegant abstract models, along with conceptual sketches. “They’re not representative of buildings—they’re representative of ideas,” says Cloepfil, 59. One work of note is Resonant Vessels, a rectangular concrete sculpture that inspired his biggest building to date: the National Music Centre of Canada’s Studio Bell (pictured), opening this summer, in Calgary, Alberta. The 160,000-square-foot facility is composed of nine interlocking towers partially clad in terracotta tile with a platinum glaze that amplifies natural light. Much like the original model, the building has “a quiet exterior that’s more earthbound,” says Cloepfil, “but inside, things sparkle, shine, and come alive.”