The Aspen Art Museum (AAM) is a non-collecting contemporary art museum that was founded in 1979. AAM exhibitions include drawings, paintings, sculptures, multimedia installations and electronic media. Their new 33,000-square-foot, four-level facility is Shigeru Ban's first US museum to be constructed and houses eight exhibition spaces: six gallery spaces, a roof top sculpture garden, and an outdoor commons.

Five architectural features interact around the concepts of layering and transparency. The Woven Wooden Screen allows for those outside to engage with the interior of the building, while those inside can still feel a part of their surroundings. The Walkable Skylights on the rooftop bring natural lighting into the galleries below. The Grand Stair mediates between the interior and exterior by bringing mobile art outside onto its platforms. While ascending in The Moving Room (glass elevator), visitors experience a slow unfolding of the focused view of the mountain from the rooftop. The triangular Wooden Roof Structure covers the interior space of the roof and gives depth and beauty to the interior of the ceiling.

During the day, sunlight filtering in through the Woven Wooden Screen creates unique patterns of shadows on the interior spaces. At night, the artificial lighting brings this play of light and shadow to both the interiors and exteriors of the museum.  The artificial lighting underscores the layering of the architecture, from the holistic gallery lighting that allows for maximum visibility of the artwork to intimate, low level lighting on the rooftop that allows visitors to have an unobstructed connection to the landscape.

L'Observatoire International provided the lighting design for the entire museum, including the façade, exterior landscape and all interior public spaces.


33,000 ft2 / 3,066 m2



Date Completed


Project Leader

Alex Miller

Photo Credit

Studio Dubuisson

David Prutting