Emilio Ambasz's design for the Grand Rapids Art Museum proposed to transform an existing 1908 Beaux-Arts post office into the museum's new headquarters. The intention was to revitalize the Grand Rapids downtown area by using this vacant federal building in conjunction with additional underused or abandoned structures. Ambasz left the existing structure intact; his only intervention was to move the entrance to the open courtyard, thereby creating a single entry for the museum and reintegrating the building with a nearby college and commercial downtown area. The entrance to the grand foyer is created by means of an inclined plane flanked by two stairways, which creates a ceremonial entrance as well as a covered courtyard. Similar inclined entrances were to be used in the additional structures. Although it had been commissioned by the museum, the design was never realized owing to financial difficulties.
Publication excerpt from an essay by Bevin Cline and Tina di Carlo, in Terence Riley, ed., The Changing of the Avant-Garde: Visionary Architectural Drawings from the Howard Gilman Collection, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2002.