Inverse Monolith.

Museum of Contemporary Art


The Chattahoochee runs like an artery through Columbus' urban core, pumping water through the rift between its downtown and Phenix City. The river connects multiple towns across Alabama and Georgia, a relationship that has had both commercial and recreational ramifications. Today, the stretch of whitewater that separates the two cities is the longest urban rafting course in the world, and one of Columbus’ biggest draws for outdoor enthusiasts. Most of the city’s historic buildings take the form of either functioning, abandoned, or repurposed mill architecture. Many of the neighborhoods within the city limits started off as communities for the mill workers. Several of the mills had dams spanning the breadth of the river, most of which have since been demolished to enable more white water rafting. This site was selected because the overlap of the artistic and historic networks, the rich character of local materials, and the juxtaposition of urban and natural fabrics resulted in a preexisting set of atmospheric conditions. The river especially provides a connection between primitive, resultant, and considered atmosphere within an urban context.


The project program consists of three artist studios and a gallery oriented along an east to west axis. These are a pottery studio and outdoor kiln, a music studio above a multipurpose space, and a painting studio nested within the gallery. Formally, the structure is composed of two steel volumes that float above a concrete plinth, held together by a glue-laminated truss skeleton.  The volumes are largely devoid of openings on the sides, preserving the privacy of the artists and the integrity of the material. Light enters from above and from a few key side openings. The site is traversed by a set of overlapping paths, each catering to a different type of user.


architecture, atmosphere, museum, art, illumination, volumes, transit


Atlanta, GA, United States


50,000 ft²


Fall 2019


Justin Miller


Contemporary Art Museum


Auburn University, Studio IX




Form and Function


The Museum tower houses the galleries and primary museum sequence. Classrooms, offices and the auditorium are contained in the horizontal bar which runs parallel to the long street edge. The rising seats of the auditorium lift the bar, manifesting externally as an angled mass directed downwards towards the MARTA platform. The service is contained in the tertiary volume between the gallery monolith and the neighboring residential block.




The Program consists of three categories: show, learn, and serve. The orientation and division of egress/access allow the programmatic volumes to be active both simultaneously and independently of each other. This programmatic division is discernible in the placement of volume and void across the site. 


Music Studio

Pairing acoustic and visual reflection. The pool serves as a privacy barrier between performers and walkers.

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