The museum was immediately dubbed "the submarine" because it was built below the flood level of surrounding rivers.
Built to replace a museum on the outskirts of the city, the 145,000 square foot building provides two floors of gallery space for permanent and temporary exhibitions and a third floor for public amenities. It rises above the water like a series of silvery reeds formed of tubular steel that begin underground and then burst through the glass skyline to heights of 170 feet.
"The submarine" was hailed by federal and city authorities at the opening as a sculptural icon for the Osaka skyline. It is situated on Nakano Island, between the Tosabori and Dojima rivers, a site currently being developed as a new cultural and business gateway to the city.
The opening exhibition is titled "Marcel Duchamp and 20th Century Art" and will run through Dec. 19.
To make the underground museum watertight, Pelli encased it in a three-layered concrete wall that is almost 10 feet thick, enabling the building to provide temperature and humidity controls at greatly reduced operating expense.