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Former cheese factory becomes contemporary art centre

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Embracing the history of the site, the design maintains the indUStrial integrity of the building and preserves the connection between past and present that it represents for the community.
– Calli Verkamp

Wheeler Kearns Architects have transformed a decommissioned cheese factory in the US city of Bentonville, Arkansas, into a multidisciplinary space for visual, performing and culinary artists.

The Momentary was opened at the end of February as a satellite location of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, which is also in Bentonville.

The 63,000sq ft (5,900sq m) facility was conceived with the aim of providing a unique cultural hub with engaging indoor and outdoor areas.

In seeking to achieve that, as much of the existing structure was retained as possible, with new elements added in materials like steel and glass to differentiate them.

The galleries​ are housed in the oldest part of the original building, which covers over 24,000sq ft (2,200sq m), a multidisciplinary performance space seating up to 350 people is located in the old milk intake room and there's a black box theatre with retractable seating for up to 100 people located in the old fermentation room.

Perhaps the most unusual space is the building's 70ft (21m)-high tower, which allows for vertical circulation, houses mezzanines used for visual arts, performance and social events and is topped with a bar that has panoramic views and a floor skylight looking down to the museum below.

There are also event spaces, artist studios, a variety of other food and drink outlets, while outdoor spaces include courtyards, a green and a canopy-covered area.

Calli Verkamp, lead architect for the project at ​Wheeler Kearns, said: ​“The design centres on authenticity. Embracing the history of the site, it maintains the industrial integrity of the building and preserves the connection between past and present that it represents for the community.”

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​Wheeler Kearns Architects have transformed a decommissioned cheese factory in the US city of Bentonville, Arkansas, into a multidisciplinary space for visual, performing and culinary artists.
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