The museum was designed to be a part of the Cultural Complex in the city, sharing the space with the College of Art designed by Le Corbusier, the museum of Natural History, and also the Architecture City Museum. Its large concrete plaza has an outdoor sculpture court, shallow pools for water collection from its roof. The landscape around is dotted with numerous bottle brush and eucalyptus plantations. The most spectacular building of the Cultural Core is the Museum and Art Gallery, a seminal work of Le Corbusier representing the synthesis of his ideas explored in the 1930s for a Museum of Unlimited Growth. Standing tall, it exhibits the large scale use of exposed reinforced concrete as a modern building material and the emergence of new building typologies that signaled the ‘arrival of modern’ in Chandigarh and India as a newly independent nation.
It addressed two critical requirements of the museum - adequate lighting for the museum collections as well as climatic control with respect to the prevailing hot humid climate. The museum makes full use of the terrace as a 'bringer of light'. Eight saw tooth shaped light shafts cover the roof to direct light into the galleries below and cut out the west sun. Indirect natural lighting and water troughs are unique rooftop design elements that offer solutions for natural, glare free lighting, as well as aid microclimatic amelioration especially during hot humid months. The trough shaped roofs of the saw tooths collect the rainwater, and channelize it into sculpturesque gargoyles on either side of the museum. Finally the exposed concrete gargoyles empty the rainwater into pools located at the front and the rear of the museum. Slim floor to ceiling high aerators were meant to facilitate cross ventilation during hot summer and monsoon time.