Sites Map ACL Project List

Nakashima Header
tumacacori Summary

Located in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, about 2 miles from New Hope, and approximately 1 hour driving from Philadelphia, the Arts Building and Cloister, built between 1964 and 1967, occupies a privileged position as the most iconic and architecturally significant of George Nakashima's built works.

Sponsored by the Getty Foundation's initiative Keeping It Modern, this project focuses on devising a Conservation and Management Plan (CMP)  for guiding decision making and long term stewardship of this important Historic National Landmark. For this purpose, a multi-disciplinary team including a heritage surveyor, conservation architect, landscape architect, structural engineer, environmental engineer, and wood scientist, led by Project Director Frank Matero, and Associate Director William Whitaker, has been assembled.

Above: Exterior view of the Arts Building and Cloister from the southwest. 
The CMP will encompass identifying the many values embodied at the Arts Building and Cloister as it exists today, and their interiors, contents, and setting; a conservation policy framework, and a comprehensive plan of action with an attempt to schedule its implementation.

Together with the efforts of the Architectural Conservation Laboratory and  external consultants, assessing the compound becomes fundamental in understanding the building in terms of its immediate planted and natural landscape, structure, exterior envelope, and interior environrmental conditions.

historic image
Above: Interior view of the Arts Building showing the cantilevered stairs leading to the Mezzanine. Notice the curvature of the hyperbolic paraboloid roof. 
The Arts Building and Cloister stands apart in a wooded isolated area in the low-lying eastern limit of the property, where the slope levels off. The building displays Japanese and American influences, vernacular and modernist, which are recognizable through the use of fine craftsmanship, architectural elements, and its soaring hyperbolic paraboloid roof, which represents a decade of experimental research on expressive roofing at the complex.

As in earlier buildings, Nakashima used materials at hand. Not only  traditional stone and wood, but also manufactured industrial hardware and building products. Some of these materials, such as Structolite® were crafted to recall traditional Japanese earthen plasters.

Today, the Arts Building and Cloister houses artwork and personal objects gathered through the years by George Nakashima and his family, prototype furniture, as well as archival material.

The framework for assessing significance embraces the professionally accepted international and national methodologies, such as a the Burra Charter and the English Heritage Conservation Principles. What makes this conservation planning project interesting is the study of Nakashima's characteristic combination of craft tradition and ordinary industrial products to create this modern landmark as well as the necessity to balance the many issues that arise as the property transitions.

water color
Above: Exterior view of the northwest facade. Notice  the mosaic mural, which was manufactured by Gabriel Loire in Chartres, France, after a gouache painted by the Lithuanian-born American artist and George Nakashima's friend Ben Shahn. 

TUMA Funding