Posts tagged with "Dartmouth College":

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Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects renovates and expands Dartmouth's Hood Museum of Art

Up close, the newly reopened Hood Museum of Art exudes a quiet confidence uncommon in large-scale institutional projects. The architecture, lightly brutalist in form, doesn’t command attention from afar or overwhelm the small campus of Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. It’s simply inviting. And the same goes for the inside. The design team behind the $50 million renovation and expansion project, Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects (TWBTA), will be the first to say its intervention is meant to focus a visitor’s experience on the art, not the architecture. But that doesn’t mean the architecture isn’t vital; it’s a backdrop, the architects say. This is an important lesson the pair has been trying to learn throughout the four-decade partnership. “As you grow older, you develop a sense of confidence in yourself,” said Tsien. “When you’re more confident, I think it’s less important that you declare yourself in the architecture.” In the case of the revamped Hood Museum, the firm's own quiet confidence translates into the museum’s bold, yet restrained new look. Situated on a campus full of 19th-century, Georgian-style buildings, the Hood Museum is tucked between a cramped series of structures lining the southern edge of Dartmouth’s historic green—a red-brick library, a glassy performing arts center from the '60s, and a Machado Silvetti–designed visual arts center completed in 2012. The original museum building, which TWBTA meticulously renovated, was designed in 1985 by Charles Moore during his tenure at Centerbrook Architects. In recent years, museum staff started to notice serious structural problems within the building and complained about its outdated interior layout, as well as its lack of light. The staff also needed a larger space for their own offices, due to an ever-growing team, and more teaching facilities to accommodate the 40 departments that use the museum’s 65,000-piece collection for study throughout the year.   The school hired TWBTA to build on Moore’s legacy by adding 16,350 square feet to the existing site, while simultaneously improving wayfinding, smoothing circulation, and bringing light into the formerly dark facility. The design team, led by Azadeh Rashidi, reconfigured the museum’s public-facing identity by creating a new boxy, off-white brick facade that cantilevers over the main entrance and an adjacent pathway. A 14-square-foot vitrine window was cut on the right side of the front facade to tease passersby with a glimpse into the museum’s new sculpture gallery. Williams and Tsien credit the museum’s dedicated staff and curators in helping them calm down their vision for the building so the art could “speak for itself.” The two were compelled to design from the inside out, they said. “We do care about the outside of the building,” said Tsien, “but we really do think about the experience first and foremost. We’re always trying to focus on finding a balance between rest and quiet as well as excitement and movement.” The firm’s 21st-century expansion added six new galleries to the Hood Museum, bringing the total from 10 to 16 galleries spread out over two floors. TWBTA also tripled the number teaching spaces by creating three classrooms within the new Bernstein Center for Object Study, where students can directly engage with single works of art pulled from the museum’s encyclopedic collection. They additionally built out a light-filled office space for museum staff on the top floor and designed a double-height, flex-use atrium connecting the entrance to the adjacent Hopkins Center for Arts. According to the architects, the new lobby can also be a performance or gathering space. To create all this new space, TWBTA had to make a controversial change to the existing Moore building that solicited serious criticism in 2016. They filled in a large, sweeping courtyard that previously served as a gateway from the Green to the surrounding arts buildings and downtown Hanover. The new construction straightened out the Hood Museum and removed a Romanesque archway at the front of the structure that signaled its presence on campus and led visitors to the museum’s actual entrance beyond. John Stomberg, Virginia Rice Kelsey 1961s Director of the Hood Museum, said the move was pivotal for allowing the museum to grow into the modern era and expand its art collection. “We challenged Tod and Billie with the hard task of making a beautiful space that couldn’t increase beyond its current idiosyncratic location,” he said. “What they came up with was an idea so eloquent that it immediately seemed natural. It requires an extended visit to understand how deeply and completely it solves all of the museum’s dilemmas.”
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Further details emerge for controversial expansion of Charles Moore-designed Hood Museum of Art

In a moment of deep irony, Tod Williams and Billie Tsien are in the center of another demolition controversy, this time—some allege—as the perpetrators. Their Folk Art Museum fell to MoMA’s wrecking ball in 2014, prompting a massive national debate, while two more of their projects face uncertain futures: The pavilion for Hurricane Sandy victims in Highlands, New Jersey, and the Mattin Center at Johns Hopkins University. Now, the pair is helming a project that would raze—but also renovate and preserve—parts of the Charles Moore-designed Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College.

Charles Moore and Chad Floyd of Centerbrook Architects and Planners—a firm that Moore founded in 1975—designed the building in 1985. The 40,000-square-foot structure is restrained compared to some of Moore’s other works: Tucked away between an 1884 red brick library and a 1962 modernist performance center, it’s a series of rectangular brick volumes with slanted copper-clad roofs. The most prominent exterior features are its exposed concrete gateway, which faces the Dartmouth campus, and a small cupola atop the rear of the museum. As part of the plan Dartmouth and Williams and Tsien are implementing, the gateway, the museum offices, and one Moore gallery would be destroyed, and a courtyard adjacent to the museum would be filled with new construction.

Kevin Keim, director of the Charles Moore Foundation, said that the Hood is Moore’s most important museums and among the top ten projects of his career. Hood Museum of Art director John Stomberg explained that the Moore building has acute architectural and programmatic failings that necessitated the expansion. “We have leaks, mold, vapor, and heat loss…some structural issues,” he said. To cope with snow and ice falling off of its strongly angled roofs, Dartmouth builds snow sheds along surrounding paths in the winter. Stomberg said that Hood, a teaching museum geared toward putting undergrads in contact with art, has drastically different needs since it was built in 1985. Three new “object-study classrooms,” designed for “the direct study of original works,” along with a new flexible-use atrium and 50 percent more gallery space, will take the place of the demolished sections and the courtyard.

As for the remaining Moore galleries, Stomberg said: “We’re spending so much time and energy painstakingly renovating [them].” One aspect of the redesign, said Stomberg, will actually help realize an original aspect of the Moore building: The original museum’s grand staircase was topped with skylights that were left closed to preserve the artwork. Those skylights, covered by the new Williams and Tsien addition above, will become illuminated lightboxes. “This is something Tod and Billie are very proud of; restoring the experience of ascending a Charles Moore staircase with the pacing of the fenestration just the way he had originally intended,” Stomberg said.

It may be the destruction of the gateway that has been the most polarizing. Inscribed simply with the word ‘HOOD,’ it connects the museum to the adjacent library and performance center. It’s also an opening for a walking path that runs through the museum courtyard and connects campus to the southern part of Hanover. However, the museum’s actual entrance is tucked away in the corner of the courtyard. While students will always find the museum, “that entrance has to tell the community that they’re welcome too. It hasn’t really done that,” said Stomberg. The new museum entrance, which will take the place of the gateway, will create a prominent facade facing campus and the main road that runs through it. The courtyard’s pathway will be enlarged and straightened.

Currently, this $50 million dollar project is scheduled for completion January 2019. Keim is at a loss about the project: “I honestly don’t know what else we can do to protest the expansion,” he said. However, Stomberg said the project was better received in Hanover: “We had a debut of the [expansion’s architectural] model and we had over 350 local people come and the response was really enthusiastic.”

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Todd and Billie to Get Arty for the Big Green

Expect to be hear a lot about Todd Williams and Billie Tsien in the weeks and months to come. First up, their much anticipated (and highly controversial) new building for the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, which opens imminently. Second, the fate of their building for the American Folk Art Museum (now owned by MoMA) hangs in the balance, with Jean Nouvel's tower looming on the horizon. Third comes the announcement that the pair will renovate and expand the Hood Art Museum at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. The project will include new and renovated galleries for Darmouth's art collection, which dates to 1772.