Museum of Women
location: New York, NY, NY
client: Battery Park City Authority (proposal)
size: 200,000 s.f.
date: 2001
contact: hMa hanrahanMeyers architects

Statement of Intent


Although the basic design principle of Battery Park City is to create a seamless urban fabric, the new Museum of Women will have a clear identity. Every aspect of the Museum will embody its mission.

women’s voices

Along with an investigation into the life of Susan B. Anthony, hMa requested that people send us written ‘Testimonials’. These ‘testimonials were to address: what it means to be a woman; each writer’s experience of the women’s rights movement; and how being a woman or experiencing the women’s rights movement has affected their lives.

hMa used the testimonials gathered from many sources to form a base for the design for the Museum of Women.

a woven text

hMa used research into women’s voices to weave a rich text that weaves itself into a building that is itself a fabric. This woven fabric creates a fresh and relevant approach to the design of a Museum of Women. The fabric is woven from collected ‘testimonials’, as well as from a considered investigation into the life of Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and other women active in the fight for women’s rights.

web of ideas

Formally, a building that is a ‘weave’ can take on many forms. ‘Weaving’ can be literal, or it can be subtle, with woven areas of light and dark, and woven circulation patterns underlining a narrative text and creating a ‘web’ to hold the conversations this building will make possible. The building is designed as a center of convergence for this fabric, with threads reaching into the landscape of Battery Park, and web connections relating the building and the stories it generates to a world wide audience.

sustainable fabric

The skin of the Museum of Women uses weaving and layering to make an environmentally sensitive enclosure. The Museum will be a transparent building covered with a ‘woven fabric’. This fabric will be a series of sun shades and rain catches that make the building an ecologically sensitive ecosystem. The skin creates the new ecosystem, and monitors internal temperatures and humidity levels with a minimum use of fossil fuels. This layered and woven skin is environmentally appropriate and makes use of sustainable technologies.

a story

We are proposing the design of a narrative building that tells a story through its physical embodiment on the site. The Museum of Women is an all inclusive building that makes space for many colors and textures within its rich weave. The Museum of Women is a woven fabric that creates a place for extended conversations between women, about women, and for women. Although it will be based in Manhattan, through the web the Museum will connect women around the globe.

The building’s text will include the role of Women in history, their role today, and their role in the future. Part of this fabric will be a ‘timeline’. The Timeline will speak to the allegory of women’s role in various cultures: as it is, as it was, and as it will be in the future.