To think that the mundane world of storage would lead to such a great example of adaptive reuse! This former tobacco factory now “stores” art and artists. It’s very much a work in progress by those behind Moishe’s Moving & Storage, but growing rapidly. The beer garden wasn’t yet open when we visited in May, nor the Glass Gallery (Mana’s signature gallery—a massive exhibition space that currently holds an show designed by Meier and curated by Ray Smith), though our Mana guide kindly opened it for us. There were few visitors wandering the maze of hallways. But expect that to change, as people discover this art destination.
We started at bookdummypress, a bookshop cum studio on the ground floor that focuses on artists’ books, run by the lovely Victor Sira and Shiori Kawasaki. We then headed up to the Richard Meier Model Museum, both archive and library, where Marie Penny, the Meier archivist, met us. Meier’s studio differentiates itself by using models consistently throughout the design process, and particularly early on. The models, made primarily of basswood and birch, are still hand-made in the age of digital fabrication. There are some great examples of his work (both built and proposed) over the decades, including the pièce de résistance: a large-scale presentation model of the Getty Center in LA. Despite the immense size, it is full of wonderful details, especially the delicate laser cut trees (the pattern for which is now patented). Meier also shows a sense of humour—the Getty model includes figures of famous people (Queen Elizabeth and Chairman Mao, for example); a drawing of the High Museum of Art in Atlanta takes promenaders straight out of a 19th century Seurat painting and places them in front of a Mondrian canvas.
Mana is open to the public on weekdays; the Meier Model Museum is open by appointment only.