The Currier Museum of ArtEdit profile
INTRODUCTION: Opened in 1929, this is one of the country’s finest regional museums, with an outstanding collection and leadership educational programs. In 2001, the Architects developed a Master Plan to realize the Museum’s strategic ambitions to become a more visible and accessible resource in the region, and to increase its membership, visitation and popularity. The result is a two-part, 33,000 SF expansion, opened in spring of 2008 which provides 50% more space for exhibits, programs and visitor services while maintaining the Museum’s appealing, intimate scale. PROGRAM & SPECIAL CONSTRAINTS: The project encompasses two full city blocks, including the site of the original donor’s home and an adjacent Victorian house, which was relocated to a neighboring Museum property. Parking for 50 cars, safe bus drop-off for tours and school groups, and outdoor space for sculpture and events was also incorporated into the site planning. The north addition features a new main lobby with ticketing area, expanded Museum shop and rest rooms. On the south, three new galleries ring an enclosed Winter Garden which offers a unique, year-round space for the café, receptions and performance. A stair from the Winter Garden leads to a new 180-seat auditorium, two classrooms and administrative offices. Behind the scenes, a new loading area and freight elevator facilitate delivery and set-up for the special exhibits which are critical to maintaining visitation. The building is individually listed on the National Register of Historic Places and located in a mixed residential and institutional neighborhood. The project went through a complex regulatory and community review process, including approval by the state and local historical commissions. DESIGN CHALLENGE & SOLUTION: The new additions were carefully scaled to maintain the prominence of the original 1929 building, designed by Tilton & Githens. The two galleries added in 1982 by Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer had re-oriented entry to the north side adjacent to parking, abandoning the original façade in the service of accessibility. The design team considered many alternatives for expansion, ultimately settling on two separate additions to respect the presence of the original building and to re-engage the historic façade The placement of new spaces and reconsideration of existing ones establishes a clear path through the galleries which builds on the Beaux Arts symmetry of the original plan. The new entrance and Winter Garden extend an axis of public spaces centered on the original two-story interior court, punctuated by glimpses of art as well as views into public spaces and the city beyond. MATERIALS: The new additions offer a contemporary interpretation of the original Museum building’s restrained classicism. The south addition is clad in glass and a rainscreen of honed brown terra cotta tiles which harmonize with the limestone and buff brick of the 1929 building and the 1982 additions, respectively. Porticos on the north and south are constructed of zinc, aluminum and fritted glass, and recall the proportions of the entrance portico. On the interior, cherry paneling and dark basalt provide warmth and richness, while recalling the Art Deco details of the original building. Natural light from skylights and large walls of glass enlivens public spaces, while carefully protecting the artwork within. SUSTAINABILITY: In the initial planning stages, alternate sites were considered, but expanding the Museum on its existing urban site was fundamental to the sustainable approach. A 19th century wood frame house on the site was also relocated to an adjacent Museum property and re-used as administrative offices. Other features include: •Planning for significantly fewer parking spaces than required by zoning, use of native species for landscaping, and no off-site discharge of stormwater. • Natural lighting for visitor service areas in the North Lobby and Winter Garden. • Windows along the base of the new south addition to provide daylight and views for staff offices. • Insulated low-e glass, fritted glass and window shading to control daylight and heat gain. • Lighting occupancy sensors throughout the building and timers to shut down lights at preset hours.