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Mr. Viñoly, a modernist, was not known for his signature style. But he did have a penchant for enclosing large spaces under glass, creating luminous interiors.

Fred A. Bernstein, The New York Times
Rafael Viñoly enjoys a moment at the opening reception for the newly opened Nasher Museum on September 30, 2005. Photo by Duke Photography.

After interviewing many top architects, Duke awarded the Nasher Museum commission to Uruguayan-born Rafael Viñoly. When it opened in October 2005, the Nasher Museum was Viñoly’s first completed art museum project in North America. He had earlier designed the new home for Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York, the Tokyo International Forum and the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia. His firm was also chosen for expansion projects at the Cleveland Museum of Art; the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.; and the Brooklyn Children’s Museum. He also designed new museums for the city of Colchester, England, and the Leicester Theatre Performing Arts Centre in England. Viñoly was a fellow of the American Institute of Architects and a recipient of numerous prizes, including the AIA/New York Chapter medal of honor. Viñoly died on March 2, 2023, at the age of 78.

[Viñoly was] a black-clad wraith with a madcap nimbus of silvery hair [who] could run a charm school in his spare time, if he had any.

Robin Finn, The New York Times
The Mary D.B.T. Semans Great Hall with a view of the Nasher Museum's glass-and-steel roof. Photo © Brad Feinknopf 2005.

The design dynamically embraces the surrounding landscape, heightening the relationship between the building and its location, and reinforcing the concept of the museum not as an object within the landscape but rather as ‘platonic boxes.’ Positioned in a loose radial pattern near the top of a gentle slope … their placement defines an irregular, pentagonal central courtyard. Covered by a light canopy of glass and steel, this dramatic central area serves as the museum’s lobby and sculpture gallery, and will be a hub for a variety of university and community activities.

Rafael Viñoly, design statement for Nasher Museum building, 2005
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