The Brazilian Museum of Sculpture, designed by Paulo Mendes da Rocha, sits on a 75,000-square foot triangular site on a main thoroughfare in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Instead of creating a free-standing building, the museum and the landscape are treated as a whole. Large concrete slabs create partly underground internal spaces and also form an exterior plaza with water pools and an esplanade. An immense 97-foot long, 39-foot wide beam frames the museum givimg the museum a presence, while also fulfilling the need for shade and shelter for the exterior plaza. That puts the focus toward the visitors which use the plaza for relaxation, relief and performances.
The museum's differing ceiling heights create a stepped outdoor space that is split by the entry fissure. These different heights also accommodate the stepping required to create outdoor seating for the plaza space, giving it a multi-functionality that is usually required for art institutions and their treatment of open space. An interesting aspect, and possibly unintended consequence, of the raised concrete beam is its framing of the surroundings. Depending on the visitor's proximity to the structure, a short, wide sliver of space is visible between the beam and the plaza surface, and with the dull gray of both the view beyond is emphasized, gaining importance through the visitor's experience. Much like sculpture changes in relation to the viewer, the context is changed by the building's presence and the visitor's relation to it.