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Clark's New Spark
Famed art institute's campus re-imagined.
Tadao Ando's new building overlooking a vast new pond.
Courtesy Clark Art Institute

The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, MA has been slowly filling out its long-range masterplan developed by Cooper Robertson in 2001. In mid-October, Tadao Ando and Boston-based landscape architects Reed Hilderbrand, along with architect Annabelle Selldorf, articulated the future of the museum campus, which will be fully completed in 2014.

Left to right: The new lake in winter; the exterior and interior of the Ando addition; gallery space.

The big reveal was the design details of “a new addition to the museum by Ando, set on a new man-made lake-retention pond designed with Reed Hilderbrand. While many museums, including the Clark’s original 1955 building, are cloistered temples for art, Ando’s wing aims to tie into and frame the landscape. Viewing art and viewing the landscape are meant to harmonize, with the progression through the galleries continuing into the landscape beyond. In his presentation, Ando said he hoped that visitors would be engaged in mind and body through the art and the stunning Berkshires landscape. The 44,400-square-foot building will serve as the new entrance to the museum and will contain galleries, a conference center, and a visitor’s center. In 2008, Ando completed the Stone Hill Center, which includes a café and state of the art conservation center located to the south of the museum and study center.

the Manton Research Center will be renovated by Seldorf.

The 1.5-acre reflecting pool will be built on a site formerly given over to parking. Setting off the Ando building, the pool has a hard edge that cascades in three tiers and then feathers out toward a new man-made wetland. The pool will handle run-off from all the buildings and the parking lot that will be reused for grey water and irrigation, reducing the facility’s potable water usage by half. Two miles of new walking trails will also be added to the campus.

In addition to renovating the original Clark building and increasing its gallery space by 45 percent, Selldorf will be renovating the Institute’s Manton Research Center, originally designed by Pietro Belluschi, with a new garden entrance. The design will also repurpose a large atrium space—formerly used but not entirely successfully for large events—as a major reading room for the center, which is home to Williams College’s renowned graduate program in art history. The facility also includes new study areas for works on paper.

Alan G. Brake