(Photo: Matthu Placek)

With an opening sandwiched between Hurricane Sandy and Art Basel Miami Beach, the Parrish Art Museum’s breathtaking new home in Water Mill, New York may have escaped your notice. In fact, that’s one of its charms. The Herzog & de Meuron-designed building is a stealth beauty, an extruded artist’s studio that appears as a bleached, barn-like structure set at a jaunty angle to Montauk Highway. We’re declaring the new Parrish our 2012 Building of the Year and urge you to make a New Year’s resolution to pay a visit.

“When we started to work on this project, one of the first things we did was visit artists’ studios here on the East End of Long Island,” Ascan Mergenthaler, the Herzog & de Meuron senior partner who was in charge of the $26.2 million Parrish project, told us last month at the museum’s opening. “We took the artist’s studio—the classic one, a house-shaped typology with north-facing skylights–as a role model for all the galleries that you find in this building.”

Set on property that was once a tree nursery (now a meadow studded with native plants masterminded by the landscape whisperers at Reed Hilderbrand), the 34,400-square-foot building is formed by a pair of rough and cloudy concrete walls that span 600 feet across and are edged, ingeniously, in a ledge that provides abundant outdoor seating and a human scale to all of that rugged horizontality. “The scheme was very simple,” added Mergenthaler. “We only had to add a porch and covered space [which extends off of the café and around the back] so that the outdoor space also becomes an inhabited space. And then you blur the boundaries between outdoor and indoor. We thought that was very important.”
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