Two years ago, SITE Santa Fe tapped SHoP Architects to expand and upgrade its home, a former beer warehouse turned museum in a rail yard. Now, images of the newly-opened museum expansion show how the low-slung building was transformed as a polished homage to its industrial surroundings.

The contemporary art museum picked New York’s SHoP for an addition to the home it has occupied since its founding in 1995. To access the new, 10,000-square-foot space, visitors pass under a metal prow and through an open forecourt to the main entrance. From there, the new program includes a bigger lobby, more outdoor space, 200-seat theater, a sculpture court, more space for education, and a new cafe and store. The extra room will enable the museum to host more exhibitions and reach a broader swath of visitors in Santa Fe, a city of 84,000, and the surrounding region.

(Jeff Goldberg/ESTO)

The exterior is clad in a ridged metal facade, a nod to corrugated steel railway cars. (Jeff Goldberg/ESTO)

“We wanted the design to lend a quality of intimacy to the space but also open it up to the energy of the Railyard district,” SHoP Principal Christopher Sharples told CLADGlobal. “Together the new galleries, public gathering spaces, and the exterior entrance signal a mature sophistication throughout the space while also creating an iconic presence for the institution as it moves forward.”

The project broke ground in August 2016, and the museum opened early last month. In all, the expansion brings SITE Santa Fe’s footprint to 36,000 interior and exterior square feet.

(Jeff Goldberg/ESTO)

Gallery interior (Jeff Goldberg/ESTO)

Santa Fe, an artsy city already, is no stranger to adventurous architecture and design. In 2015, designers at Ouchhh, a Turkish studio, brought wild fractal projections to the Digital Dome of the Institute of American Indian Arts, the city’s college and museum devoted to Native American art. Two years before that, WAMO Studio transformed a walk-in freezer into a new (dare we say “cool”) office for its practice.

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