Modern gem

Fort Worth museum crowned best-designed building in Texas by Architectural Digest

Fort Worth museum crowned best-designed building in Texas by magazine

Modern Art Museum Fort Worth
The Modern Art Museum's building is the best in Texas. Photo courtesy of Fort Worth CVB

The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth contains thousands of post-World War II treasures from the art world, including works by Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and Andy Warhol. The building itself is a treasure — something Fort Worth folks have known for years, and a distinction that a national magazine has just confirmed.

In a May 22 report on the best-designed buildings in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., Architectural Digest crowned the Modern Art Museum the best in Texas.

Japanese architect Tadao Ando, winner of the coveted Pritzker Prize in architecture, designed the museum, which was completed in 2002. Architectural Digest lauds Ando’s design as “modern and elegant, with a moat surrounding the structure that creates an alluring reflection at night.”

Architectural Digest set out to find "buildings that further add to the ever-changing tapestry that is American culture," the article says.

"At its core," the magazine says, "architecture moves past its function as merely a building and turns into a landmark once it's made a distinct presence on a city's identity. We believe these structures do just that."

The Modern joins such well-known buildings as Iolani Palace in Honolulu, Grand Central Station in New York, Aqua Tower in Chicago, St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans, and Frank Lloyd Wright's iconic Fallingwater Mill Run, Pennsylvania on the list.

The latest accolade
Ando explained his architectural philosophy in a 2016 interview with PORT magazine.

“The real importance of architecture is its ability to move people’s hearts deeply,” Ando said. “I am always trying to establish spaces where people can gather and interact with one another.”

Architectural Digest isn’t the only publication that has commended the Modern Art Museum, part of Fort Worth’s Cultural District.

For instance, Travel + Leisure magazine crowned it one of the “World’s Most Beautiful Art Museums.” And that’s high praise, considering that the Modern’s neighbors include the Kimbell Art Museum, designed by American architect Louis I. Kahn and Italian architect Renzo Piano, and the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, designed by American architect Philip Johnson.

Travel + Leisure says Ando’s design of the Modern — made up of five long, flat-roofed pavilions situated on a 1.5-acre pond — “embodies the pure, unadorned elements of a modern work of art.”

Another magazine, Condé Nast Traveler, also has applauded the Modern’s design.

“Massive planar walls of architectural concrete boldly express the Modern’s basic structure while protecting the collection within. Forty-foot-high transparent walls of glass framed in metal surround the concrete envelope, providing magnificent public circulation areas from which to view the surrounding building, the large reflecting pond, outdoor sculpture, and the landscaped grounds,” Condé Nast Traveler notes.

By day, the Modern’s setting on 11 naturally landscaped acres — including an outdoor sculpture garden — “provides a restful complement to the building’s architectural strength,” Condé Nast Traveler adds. “By night, with the concrete walls bathed in an even glow of light, the transparent glass-and-steel galleries appear as large lanterns floating on and reflected in the pond.”

Even the Modern’s café qualifies as an architectural gem.

“With its serene reflecting pools visible through curving, floor-to-ceiling windows, the [café] feels like it’s floating on a wide quiet pond,” touts Visit Fort Worth.