Talk Mar. 11: For Better Museums, Architecture for Everyone (Studio Ma)

Scottsdale’s Museum of the West
Scottsdale’s Museum of the West

Economy and design excellence are not incompatible. That’s the main takeaway of an upcoming talk by architect Christiana Moss along with Mike Fox, director and CEO of Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West, at a national museum conference in Philadelphia on March 11.

Using building techniques better known for big-box and industrial construction — along with integrated design-build delivery and highly sustainable, green features — this team created a low-cost, memorable, energy-efficient museum for a private-public client. Since its opening, Scottsdale’s Museum of the West has garnered design awards, record attendance, and praise from cultural groups nationally.

In the talk at the national Building Museums Symposium 2018 in Philadelphia, the museum director and architect share their approach as well as post-occupancy findings — statistics kept since the 43,000-square-foot, two-story Scottsdale museum opened in 2015 that prove it’s working as anticipated.

According to Christiana Moss, AIA, principal of the Phoenix-based architecture and environmental design firm Studio Ma, “We hope to reinforce how museums can bring meaningful, expressive architecture to their communities and visitors while also achieving high standards for economical and environmental performance,” she says. “Design is an unlimited resource that can transform communities. It’s a mission we all aspire to — the benefits are available not just to a few elite institutions, but rather architecture for everyone.”

Building Museums Symposium 2018
March 9-11, Philadelphia

What: Session 10, “Economy + Design Excellence” Case study of Scottsdale’s Museum of the West

Who: Christiana Moss, AIA, principal of Studio Ma Mike Fox, director/CEO of Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West

When: Sunday, March 11, from 9:15am – 10:30am

Where: DoubleTree Center City, Philadelphia.


Michael Fox is director and CEO of Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West. Previously he was Assistant Director of the Phoenix Art Museum and subsequently the Assistant Director of the Heard Museum for 13 years. He has also worked at U.C. Berkeley and at the Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff, where he directed a $40 million project initiative. Fox also resided in Louisville, where he served as Director for the Muhammad Ali Center, a 98,000-square-foot complex with a budget of about $110 million.

Christiana Moss, AIA, is cofounder and managing partner of the award-winning architecture and environmental design firm, Studio Ma, which was named AIA Arizona Firm of the Year in 2016. Moss assists clients with identifying project goals, facilitating decisions and leading the design team to realize successful buildings. Moss studied architecture at Cornell University and in Oslo with Pritzker Award-winner Sverre Fehn, and worked for Simon Ungers on the winning entry for the Berlin Holocaust Memorial. Moss has worked in Arizona since 1997, and has extensive experience with educational, institutional and cultural buildings. She is a registered architect in Arizona, Colorado and New Jersey, an AIA and U.S. Green Building Council member, and NCARB certificate holder. She served as conference chair for a 2016 Society of College and University Planners regional conference.