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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 Bridges’ 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 chair emeritus 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

View upward from inside Fuller dome
R. Buckminster Fuller (1895 - 1983), Fly's Eye Dome, 1961, fabricated ca. 1980, Fiberglass-reinforced polyester, 38 × 50 × 50ft. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, 2015.15

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

Architects of Nature Series: Mind Your Beeswax
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Architects of Nature Series: Mind Your Beeswax

Architecture Nature & Outdoor
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Architects of Nature Series: Avian Builders and the Complexity of Bird Nests
a bald eagle perches over a nest of twigs formed in the branches of a tall tree

Architects of Nature Series: Avian Builders and the Complexity of Bird Nests

Architecture Nature & Outdoor
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An Architectural Day Itinerary at Crystal Bridges

An Architectural Day Itinerary at Crystal Bridges

Architecture At the Museum Exhibitions

Discover the nature-centric architecture of the museum and enjoy several architecture engagements in this day-long itinerary.

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Architects of Nature Series: Spiders Make Good Neighbors
an orange and yellow orb weaver spider with black stripes sits on a web with a strip of zigzag pattern in the middle of the web

Architects of Nature Series: Spiders Make Good Neighbors

Architecture Nature & Outdoor
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Architects of Nature Series: The Busy Brilliance of Beavers
two beavers facing each other with noses touching on the bank of a body of water with leaves around them

Architects of Nature Series: The Busy Brilliance of Beavers

Architecture Nature & Outdoor
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Buckminster Fuller: A Visionary for Contemporary Housing
Buckminster Fuller in front of a Fuller dome

Buckminster Fuller: A Visionary for Contemporary Housing

Architecture Art & Collection

Learn about the life of R. Buckminster Fuller and his work in developing innovative solutions for contemporary housing.

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