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Architecture

aerial photo of Crystal Bridges architecture

The architecture of Crystal Bridges is as stunning and inspirational as the artwork housed inside it. In a ravine surrounded by native Ozark forest, the museum’s muscular gray concrete walls rise up from the bedrock, banded in rough cedar and curved to echo the shape of the hillside. The roofs of the museum’s bridges, covered in deep brown copper, rise like mounds of earth across the still ponds. Designed by architect Moshe Safdie, the structures are meant to provide views of the surrounding landscape and play up the interaction between architecture, art, and nature.

Bringing people, art, and nature together is at the core of Crystal Bridge’s mission, and nature-centric architecture is a key factor in that equation. For that reason, Crystal Bridges celebrates the visionary work of architects such as Safdie and Frank Lloyd Wright, whose buildings work in harmony with the natural environment.

We encourage guests to explore the architecture of Crystal Bridges, as well as that of Wright’s classic Usonian house on the museum grounds. Guided tours focusing on the architecture of each of these structures are also available.

Crystal Bridges Expansion | Conversations with Alice Walton and Moshe Safdie

Crystal Bridges announced plans for a major expansion designed by Safdie Architects, with construction commencing in early 2022 and an expected completion in 2024. This will increase the size of the facility by roughly 50 percent, adding new galleries, educational facilities, and community spaces to allow for more art, outreach, programs, and events.

In the video below, Crystal Bridges founder and chairperson Alice Walton discusses the museum’s expansion with Moshe Safdie, founder of Safdie Architects.

View the full expansion press release here.

View our YouTube playlist for more conversations with Alice Walton and Moshe Safdie here.

Crystal Bridges Architecture Audio Tours

Moshe Safdie

Crystal Bridges was designed by internationally renowned architect Moshe Safdie, who envisioned a building that would complement the surrounding Ozark landscape. Nestled into a natural ravine, the museum integrates the element of water on the site through the creation of two spring-fed ponds that are spanned by two signature bridge structures and surrounded by a group of pavilions housing museum galleries and studios.

Learn about Moshe Safdie

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

Frank Lloyd Wright

In 2013, Crystal Bridges acquired a classic “Usonian” house designed by celebrated American architect Frank Lloyd Wright and constructed in 1954. Known as the Bachman-Wilson House, the structure was dismantled at its original site in Somerset County, New Jersey, and reconstructed on the museum grounds overlooking Crystal Spring.

Learn about the Bachman-Wilson House

Frank Lloyd Wright Wilson Bachman House exterior at night

Marlon Blackwell

Architect Marlon Blackwell designed the museum store at Crystal Bridges to be an organic complement to the museum’s natural setting and distinctive architecture. Under a living green roof, the interior ceiling and walls are lined with undulating Cherrywood ribs that mimic the fluting on the underside of a mushroom. Blackwell practices architecture in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and serves as distinguished professor at in the Fay Jones School of Architecture + Design at the University of Arkansas.

Visit the Museum Store

Museum Store Designed by Marlon Blackwell

Fly’s Eye Dome

The 50-foot diameter Fly’s Eye Dome, designed by American architect and inventor Buckminster Fuller, has been installed on the museum’s Orchard Trail. This is one of only three prototypes fabricated in Fuller’s lifetime and has spent nearly three decades in storage.

The Fly’s Eye Dome is sponsored by Ken and Liz Allen, Chip and Susan Chambers, The Harrison and Rhonda French Family, and Tartaglino Richards Family Foundation in memory of Maurice Jennings.

Learn about the Fly’s Eye Dome

Fuller dome at Crystal Bridges

Architecture in NWA

Discover more about mid-century Modern architecture in Northwest Arkansas! The Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, has created a guide highlighting structures designed by significant mid-century architects in our region. Click here to plan your trip to visit nearby structures by Fay Jones, Edward Durell Stone, Warren Segraves, and more.

Learn about NWA architecture

Warren Segraves Building

Architecture Blog Posts

The Museum’s Lobby and Courtyard Will Undergo Updates to Create More Space and a Better Visitor Experience
Maman by Louise Bourgeois being installed

The Museum’s Lobby and Courtyard Will Undergo Updates to Create More Space and a Better Visitor Experience

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When you come to the museum, you might notice that Maman, the 30-foot spider sculpture by artist Louise Bourgeois that has greeted visitors to the museum for the past few…

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Frank Lloyd Wright’s Bachman-Wilson House: A Peek Into the Second Floor
Master bedroom by Frank Lloyd Wright

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Bachman-Wilson House: A Peek Into the Second Floor

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American architect Frank Lloyd Wright was born on this day in 1867! To celebrate his 153rd birthday, we’re exploring the second floor of the Wright-designed Bachman-Wilson House, located on Crystal…

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Marshall Brown and his artwork Ziggurat

Architect Marshall Brown Coming to Crystal Bridges

Architecture At the Museum

Have you ever considered the link between art and architecture? It’s a fun thing to consider at Crystal Bridges, but long before the museum opened, licensed architect and urban designer…

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Buckminster Fuller's Fly's Eye Dome, and an unusual collaboration
Buckminster Fuller in front of a Fuller dome

Buckminster Fuller's Fly's Eye Dome, and an unusual collaboration

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Get ready to expand your definition of our world and your place in it by delving into the philosophy and work of R. Buckminster “Bucky” Fuller (1895-1983) with two exhibitions…

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Frank Lloyd Wright Bachman-Wilson House

Little Known Facts about Frank Lloyd Wright

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Today is the birthday of Frank Lloyd Wright, great American architect and designer of the Bachman-Wilson House here on Crystal Bridges’ grounds.  What do you know about Frank Lloyd Wright?…

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Museum Careers: A Spotlight on Exhibition Designer Jessi Mueller
Jessi Mueller

Museum Careers: A Spotlight on Exhibition Designer Jessi Mueller

Architecture People & Community

Interpretation Intern Rome Font prepared today’s blog post on Crystal Bridges’ Exhibition Designer, Jessi Mueller.  This continues a series we’re building about careers in museums. –LD   “A lot of people think…

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