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MOCA makes big plans for move to University Circle

Rachel Hunt

Issue date: 9/3/10 Section: Focus
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MOCA's new diamond-like building will sit comfortably at the corner of Euclid and Mayfield, and with 34,000 square feet, will be more than twice the size of its current space.
MOCA's new diamond-like building will sit comfortably at the corner of Euclid and Mayfield, and with 34,000 square feet, will be more than twice the size of its current space.
[Click to enlarge]
The proposed MOCA stairwell, which will reach four stories high, will also match the building's unique design.
The proposed MOCA stairwell, which will reach four stories high, will also match the building's unique design.
[Click to enlarge]

"Location, location, location:"
the importance of this
real-estate mantra is something
that the Museum of Contemporary
Art, Cleveland (MOCA)
knows all too well. For over
10 years, the museum has been
planning to build a permanent
home for its artwork, which
will enable it to move out of
its leased headquarters on Carnegie
Avenue currently shared
with the Cleveland Playhouse.
The move will not only allow
MOCA to expand its galleries
and create a more visitorfriendly
atmosphere, but it will
also make the museum a part of
the cultural hub of University

For far too long the museum
has been estranged from its hypothetical
parent, The Cleveland
Museum of Art. Though
the museums are not formally
affiliated, many have wished for years that they were more closely situated in order to get the total art experience that Cleveland's institutions have to offer. With a greater number of patrons and a high-profile building, there is no limit to how MOCA will be able to grow as an organization.

The new building will promote growth not only for MOCA, but also for the surrounding area known as the Uptown district of University Circle. It will be located at the corner of Euclid and Mayfield where parts of the Triangle Apartments now stand. MOCA's new home was designed by the Foreign Office Architects, an internationally acclaimed design firm based in London. The new MOCA galleries are the firm's first project in the United States as well as their first design for a museum. The new building will resemble a large, black diamond of sorts, reflecting the surrounding city from its polished stainless steel façade.

"Devised for both environmental and fiscal sustainability, the design for the four-story building is at once technically inventive, visually stunning, and highly practical," boasts the MOCA website. The building has four floors built up from a hexagonal base, with the fourth serving as the main exhibition space and the third floor a supplementary exhibition space. The second floor will house offices for staff and interns. With 34,000 square feet, the new building will be almost double the size of their former space.

MOCA hopes to become an integral part of the University Circle community, which is already a cultural, educational, and medical mecca for the region. One way that it hopes to accomplish this is by creating an atrium on the first floor where students and community members can lounge, socialize, and utilize their wireless internet free of charge. This atrium will face the only wall of the building not made of stainless steel - in fact, it is made of transparent glass that will make the building's interior visible to the street.. This wall will face an outdoor plaza that will beautify the Euclid-Mayfield intersection with green space as well as art and seasonal decorations. By using this architectural scheme, the museum hopes to encourage visitors to flow in as the artwork flows out and becomes a part of the city. Furthermore, MOCA anticipates that, like the Village at 115, the new museum will earn a LEED Silver accreditation upon completion.

This new construction will jumpstart a plethora of revitalization projects as part of the Uptown project. Case Western Reserve University developers MRN Ltd., and other University Circle institutions, are banding together to change the empty storefronts and parking lots lining Euclid as it approaches East Cleveland. New shops, a grocery store, and new apartments are in the mix. Many of these projects were conceived as early as 2004 by CWRU and will require an estimated $150 million dollars or more to complete. MRN Ltd. developers have contributed $44 million for the Uptown apartment building that will be designed by another renowned architect, Stanley Saitowitz.

In the meantime, MOCA's current location has two new exhibitions, both celebrating its opening night on Sept. 10: Duke Riley's An Invitation to Lubberland and Seth Rosenburg's The Cleveland Years. MOCA is waiting for the groundbreaking on its new home and continuing fundraising efforts to find the $6 million that is needed to finish financing and rejuvenate its endowment. To find out more about the campaign for the future of MOCA Cleveland, visit

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