John Keenen and Terence Riley, founding partners of K/R Architects, announced today that the firm has completed the master plan for the 100-acre (40-hectare) Parque de Levante in Murcia, Spain.The plan, which reinvents the concept of a museum-park explores therelationship between art and culture as a generator of creativity and education,as well as economic dynamism and tourism. The park will serve the Mediterranean region as a major art destination. K/R recently presented the master plan at City Hall in Murcia.
Currently, the park occupies a vast parcel of land along the Segura River within walking distance of the city’s historic center. The master plan envisions the site as a sustainable and bio-diverse open air museum – the largest in Spain and one of the largest worldwide – devoted to extensive land-based art installations, and a 485,000 square feet (45,000 square meter) campus for a new Museum of Art, Design and the Environment. The mission of the museum will be to support and expand on the open-air installations by collecting,preserving and exhibiting works by artists and designers that deal with the natural environment in new and innovative ways. The design of the museum campus and its buildings will be determined by an architectural competition to be initiated later this year.
K/R’s design interweaves diverse landscape elements with civic amenities throughout the site, including a 1.2-mile (1.9-kilometer)-long shaded promenade that meanders through groves of existing citrus trees and new plantings. The promenade will connect the eastern and western portion of the site via a land bridge that spans an existing roadway. According to John Keenen, K/R’s lead designer on the project, the land bridge “provides a sculptural presence that unifies the park, connecting the two east and west halves of the site while providing elevated views of the historic urban fabric and the landscape of the outlying areas.
The master plan also includes proposals for the restoration of the Segura riverbanks, a center for food and agriculture, an event place to host largescale gatherings such as the yearly ‘La Feria’ festival, and an artist residency program, to name a few.
In addition to support from the City of Murcia, a group of individuals and private companies led by the Fundación Gabarrón formed Murcia Futuro, a foundation that will provide support for the project. Murcia Futuro’s mission will also include attracting donations of privately held works and promoting the park’s landscape as an “artist’s canvas”. The park will notably offer contemporary artists and designers an opportunity to realize their visions on a scale unavailable elsewhere.
Terence Riley, who founded K/R with Keenen, is developing the architectural program for the Museum of Art, Design and the Environment as well as advising the Foundation on strategies for developing a collection and promoting the park as a site for artistic activity. Riley was the Philip Johnson Chief Curator for Architecture and Design at The Museum of Modern Art in New York from 1991 until 2004. According to Riley, “the institution and the landscape are conceived to grow together over time. Even now, in its earliest stages, the museum has an asset that few other museums have – acres and acres of space within walking distance of a historic city center.”Location: Murcia, Spain Architect: K/R Architects