The Beijing-based firm led by Ma Yansong, MAD Architects, has been contracted to transform the San Francisco warehouse in the port of Rotterdam into a museum on global migration. On the south bank of the River Maas, the 16,000-square-meter building was completed in 1923. After a bombing in World War II and a fire, it was reconstructed in1950 as two separate constructions: Fenix I and Fenix II. From piers around it, starting in the late 19th century, more than 3 million people sailed to countries like the United States and Canada, including notable figures like Albert Einstein, Willem de Kooning, and Max Beckman.
The intervention is defined by an organic dynamic structure, called Tornado, in a a metaphor of the journeys taken by migrants across the world, which will function as a lookout point. FENIX will harbor the museum’s growing collection of historical and artistic pieces, and also a series of works commissioned to emerging artists from all around the globe, who will tell stories of migration from their perspectives. Meanwhile, the institution has already made more than 200 acquisitions that examine the migration theme through the lens of contemporary art, among them works by Bill Viola, Francis Alÿs, Steve McQueen, and Grayson Perry. The museum is programmed to open in 2025.