1969年底，慈善家和艺术收藏家保罗·梅隆(Paul Mellon)找到路易斯·康，请他设计一个画廊，收藏他打算送给耶鲁大学的英国艺术品。他买下了位于约克街、教堂街(Chapel Street)和商业街(High Streets)之间的街区，这条街与埃格顿·斯沃特(Egerton Swartwout) 1927年修建的老耶鲁美术馆、 路易斯·康1953年修建的耶鲁大学美术馆以及保罗·鲁道夫1961年修建的艺术与建筑大楼相对。
In building the Mellon Center, the buildings which flanked the other side of Chapel Street were removed. The project is conceived as going from High to York and beyond the church. The Mellon Center will tie in with what will eventually become the art library.
Every building is a house, regardless of whether it is a Senate, or whether it is just a house.It is the room that is important when you are in it. The whole building means nothing compared to the room you’re in. And, if you consider that a plan is a society of rooms in whatever may be their duty and in what way they supplement the duty of others, then the plan begins to be something, the spirit of which you can convey to others.
It touches everybody.It doesn’t become a mysterious manipulation on the part of the architect to make things work. He has a superduty to give life to a miracle, that being the realization that the room is the beginning of architecture.
This was brought out so very well .. on the upper levels of Mellon. Below also were paintings that were being shown. They were always related to natural light but not necessarily by having the light above.
Another characteristic is the expansion joint between the two buildings, I emphasized and dramatized the expansion joint, causing it to have two entrances at this point instead of the usual one. I felt that this was in itself and aesthetic emergence, rather than what was just necessary.
When the sun is not out, the mood is the mood of the day, and the paintings live day after day in a different way. That was appreciated by Mr. Mellon when he saw it on a dull morning and he had to get close to the painting to see it. And he made the remark that when he gets up in the morning and looks at the things around him, he also has to get close to them because it isn’t a museum.And that gave him the sense of a house.
The service of the building is gradually reaching such a high cost as to equal half the cost of the building. And everything is done to conceal that half of the building.The catastrophe of good materials changing to cinder block is happening only because the equipment that must go in to the services of the building is increasingly more important and more costly.We must give it a rightful expression.
If we were able in our structures of the future to isolate the equipment of the mechanical as though it had its own aesthetic existence, just as the spaces have their own, then we would free the building of all the subterfuges we use to conceal the services of the building.
In the Mellon Center for British Art and Studies, I tried to express more dramatically this very point.In the original studies I made for Mellon, there were instruments outside which looked or will look like something independent. Instruments of different natures are for the supply of air, the exhaust of air, the machinery that goes into making the air the way you want it on the interior of the building.
The idea of intimacy between book, painting, drawing- this is in the roomlike quality of the collections. The rooms are made with concrete columns and slabs. The slabs contain the air returns, so the galleries are clear of gadgetry. The air risers however, are exposed. They become a sort of Franklin Stove sitting in a space.
The Mellon Center is as much inspired by Carcassonne as is the Medical Towers.When we needed large spans, the Virandel went through the entire point from floor to floor and released free spans. The area below where the shops are has spans up to eighty feet, so that there is no sense of direct structure relation between the building above and the one below. The idea was to free the area as much as possible for pedestrian movement, and to free the shops so that their arrangement was not inhibited by columns.
The idea was to get as much light from the central space as possible, so that the two sides of the peripheral spaces would have a light source on both sides, I allowed the amount of window that each space needed on the periphery to be dictated by the interior space.
The shield for the sun blocks out the north light, it looks awful. It has these dome which give even light on the walls, North light is used for art studios because it is a fixed light. But it also has the most injurious rays. Baffles prevent the glare, The light that comes through here is less injurious than the light that comes through the fixtures in Fort Worth Kimbell Art Museum.
Mellon is conceived as twenty-by-twenty rooms, some coming together. Where the partitions are left out, the columns are twenty by twenty. The columns are a kind of room-making discipline, by having them inducing the sense of the room even though the partition is not there, the column being that which tells you where the wall was left out and the column took its place.
In a sense it is where the walls parted and the column became.
I had a prior scheme for Mellon in which I put the mechanical outside. But it didn’t work because it proved to be expensive. I wanted it of the same metal as the exterior, mat stainless steel, pewter-like in character.
In pouring concrete I use a wood form, which actually becomes better the more you use it. Where the one form meets the other, I have allowed the concrete to bleed out by making a cut in the plywood which doesn’t quite penetrate the first layer of plywood. When the concrete pours, there isn’t resistance to the flow outward at the joint… came to the realization that if you could allow it to bleed out some, you would then have no trauma at the joint, no honey-combing.
The street has a tendency to enter the bullding. The street, with only its sidewalks being the pedestrian way, is not sufficient today with the greater number of poople and the demand for freer movement, not just simple linear movement along the street.
You enter a large open space which has protection above, and there the shops continue on the first level. Though there is no Mellon entrance at this point, you do see the building of the Mellon Studies as you enter the building for shopping purposes. There is on this level a protected area, places to eat and enjoy yourself.