OMA / shohei shigematsu design three new rooms for DAM


OMA / shohei shigematsu have designed 11,500 sq. ft of new and renovated galleries as well as a hands-on studio for the denver art museum (DAM). the project is part of a major campus development initiative that is now complete and open to the public. you can discover OMA’s newly designed spaces within the original footprint of the gio ponti-designed martin building, where the museum’s collection of architecture and design is found. 

all images © james florio


the overall DAM campus reunification and building renovation project led by machado silvetti and fentress architects involved horizontally bisecting the museum’s original stanton gallery on level 1 to make room for new galleries. OMA partner shohei shigematsu and associate christy cheng took part in that initiative in denver and designed two exhibitions, as well as the amanda j. precourt design galleries, the joanne posner mayer gallery, and the ellen bruss design studio. the latter is an interactive hub where visitors can explore design ‘as a process’ by engaging directly with objects/ materials and creating new works. 

OMA / shohei shigematsu’s galleries + studio at denver art museum open to the public
the 1,900 sq. ft mezzanine gallery with its mirrored ceiling surfaces



injecting references to gio ponti’s designs


rotated to the original grid of denver, the gio ponti martin building is a product of an urban condition – and OMA’s three new rooms amplify ponti’s intention. the interactive studio, the piazza-like design gallery, and the topographic mezzanine gallery act as distinct yet interconnected zones to stimulate ‘urban’ activity within the museum, like one might experience walking through city blocks. shigematsu states that ‘it was an exciting exercise, designing within the historic gio ponti building and drawing from his extensive, multi-faceted body of work. much like his design philosophy, the role of design seems to grow and diversify exponentially’. 

OMA / shohei shigematsu’s galleries + studio at denver art museum open to the public
re-aggregation of platforms allows the space to be transformed at will


‘a direct consequence of design ubiquity is accessibility and literacy, and we wanted the galleries to react to these changes. the three spaces pose new ways of seeing as well as interacting with objects and materials—they present different spatial and programmatic identities but work collectively as a platform for shifting the discourse beyond mere consumption of design, by incorporating movement, odd perspectives, and intimacy’,  further explains shigematsu. 

OMA / shohei shigematsu’s galleries + studio at denver art museum open to the public
a modular and flexible catalog of platforms facilitate the inherent diversity of displayed objects


the 7,750 sq. ft design gallery follows a logic of spatial typologies. an open, central ‘piazza’ is surrounded by perimeter spaces organized in an alternating sequence of rooms and islands. within the rooms, the viewer is surrounded by the displayed objects propped up centrally on islands and piers. this allows views from multiple vantage points. additionally, a modular and flexible catalog of platforms facilitates the inherent diversity of types, sizes and medium of design objects on display. the gallery is also capable of being efficiently rotated between different exhibitions through re-aggregation of platforms, allowing a permanent exhibition space to be transformed at will.


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