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A Look Inside David Adjaye’s SPYSCAPE Museum in New York

A Look Inside David Adjaye's SPYSCAPE Museum in New York

Scott Frances

British architect David Adjaye has completed New York‘s Museum of Spying ‘SPYSCAPE‘, which invites its visitors to become undercover agents.

SPYSCAPE is a new global destination for espionage that marries educational programming with state-of-the-art interactive technology to create a unique experience for every user. Developed in collaboration with expert advisors including hackers and former intelligence agency directors, this premiere spy headquarters allows visitors to deeply engage in the practice of espionage today. In addition to permanent and temporary exhibition spaces, the program for the 60,000 ft, the three-level museum includes a world-class black glass bar, flexible event spaces, and a rare bookstore.

 A Look Inside David Adjaye's SPYSCAPE Museum in New York

Adjaye Associates’ design inverts the traditional relationship between building and town – essentially establishing a small town within a building. Drawing from the architectural language of the most prestigious spy organizations, the material palette includes dark fiber cement, gray acoustic paneling, and black linoleum.

Throughout, smoked glazed doors, varied lighting strategies, transparencies between floors, and screens and perforations establish spaces that continually shift users’ vantage points and prioritize the experience of encounter and discovery.

 A Look Inside David Adjaye's SPYSCAPE Museum in New York

Upon entering the museum, visitors are guided into a 350 sq ft multimedia briefing elevator – one of the largest in the world –that orients visitors to the SPYSCAPE experience. The elevator brings visitors up the exhibition level and opens onto a flexible retail and temporary exhibition space that unfolds beneath a dramatic vaulted LED light canopy. The perimeter curtain walls of the museum feature a playful “urban camouflage” graphic dot and pixel vinyl which obscures views to the surrounding city, partially shrouding the museum interior while dually functioning as a solar screen.

 A Look Inside David Adjaye's SPYSCAPE Museum in New York

Exhibitions are housed in labyrinthian series of stacked box pavilions, each organized around a unique spy-related theme. The spatial arrangement plays with user’s perceptions, with partially concealed interstitial circulation spaces opening up into immersive, fully interactive multi-media environments. Each pavilion is distinctive and crafted around its unique content – one of which is a weathered steel drum detailed with offset panelization that envelops users in 360 degrees of programmable content.

The experience concludes with a personal debriefing that analyzes each visitor’s unique skill set, after which visitors are brought to a timber viewing platform that provides a moment of repose and vantage point over the core exhibition.

 A Look Inside David Adjaye's SPYSCAPE Museum in New York A Look Inside David Adjaye's SPYSCAPE Museum in New York A Look Inside David Adjaye's SPYSCAPE Museum in New York A Look Inside David Adjaye's SPYSCAPE Museum in New York

all images by Scott Frances | courtesy of SPYSCAPE