Zaha Hadid’s Art Museum Becomes a Virtual 3D Chatroom (On Acid)
March 22, 2012
The saga of Zaha Hadid’s Eli and Edyth Broad Art Museum continues. Where we last left off, administrators blamed the most recent delay on Zaha’s patently distorted windowpanes, as two-millimeter margins of error sent the 1,000-lb trapezoidal sheets of glass back to the contractor for re-cutting. The delays have not only left throngs of architecture fans eagerly waiting but also affirmed a fairly obvious truth: turning Zaha’s sleek renderings into reality is not an easy task. So in the meantime, why not keep dreaming in the virtual world? Enter the Virtual Broad Museum, a recently launched digital manifestation of Zaha’s vision brought into the world by Michigan State University.
“What I really wanted to do is get a museum up as quickly as I could,” museum director Michael Rush told ARTINFO, “I thought the best way to do that would be to initiate a digital experience that would be available worldwide and would involve multiple users and would reflect the building of the real building but in a virtual world.”
Though its interior designs come directly from Hadid’s renderings, the Virtual Broad Museum is no mere RHINO flythrough. For one, the exterior environment is dictated by live weather reports from East Lansing, home of the MSU campus. And get this: visitors are invited to tour the virtual space as custom avatars and interact with other visiting avatars through chat features. Moreover, the virtual museum has no intention of merely mimicking the real life experience of the museum. As ARTINFO described it, “with its eerie soundtrack and brightly-colored geometric shapes and artworks floating past, the museum seemed to us at times more like an acid trip gone awry than a visit to an art museum.” Seems like a pretty sound alternative to me.