Posts tagged with "Selldorf Architects":

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Selldorf Architects breaks ground on controversial San Diego museum expansion

After a summer filled with dueling op-eds, petitions, and general outcry from members of the international architectural community, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD) and New York City–based Selldorf Architects have officially broken ground on a controversial $95 million expansion to the museum’s campus in La Jolla, California. The Times of San Diego reports that the groundbreaking occurred Thursday of last week and quotes Selldorf Architects founder Annabelle Selldorf as saying: “This is a special place in the world. But the collection of the museum inspires equal awe. Giving home to this beautiful collection is an incredibly vital thing to do.” The project aims to more than double the size of the museum by adding 37,000 square feet of new spaces to the complex, which was last expanded by Venturi Scott Brown Associates (VSBA) in 1996. The designers aim to achieve this task by adding a new ocean-facing wing along the southern end of the complex, reorienting the museum’s entry and adding a slew of much-needed gallery spaces in the process. The project also aims to renovate the existing 35,000-square-foot original complex, which was initially designed by famed California architect Irving Gill and was expanded several times during the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s by local architects Mosher Drew. The reorientation of the museum’s entrance has been seen as controversial by many in the international architecture community, including Denise Scott Brown who has spoken out against the addition. Scott Brown contends that the entry VSBA designed was derived from the “careful study and understanding of La Jolla’s urban form” in a widely-circulated petition, and that as a result, the plan deserves to be preserved. In several phone calls with The Architect’s Newspaper, Scott Brown has explained that she does not see Selldorf’s addition and the preservation of the VSBA elements as mutually exclusive, however, and hopes that a way can be found to retain the logic of the existing entrance while fulfilling the needs of the growing museum. The existing entry arrangement is a chief design contribution from Scott Brown—who aside from being an architect is also a celebrated urban planner—and it is considered an integral aspect of the VSBA addition and its guiding postmodern ideals. The elements that are being retained by the Selldrorf team relate more directly to the bombastic, iconographic forms VSBA is best known for and include the museum’s so-called Axline Court, a starburst-shaped atrium topped by neon-lit archways. According to Selldorf, her team is dedicated to celebrating the many lives of the museum and has worked hard to retain key elements of the VSBA design. Regarding the entrance, Selldorf told AN this summer, “Our task was to add an entrance that people could find,” while adding, “Not everybody thought we should be so determined to keep [the VSBA-designed] portions, but we are doing a lot of work to have those elements retain a significant presence in reinvigorated building.” The proposed renovations have exposed a critical and long-running schism in preservation thinking over not only which types of heritage are worth preserving, but perhaps as significantly, over the scope and scale of what is considered fundamental to postmodernism and postmodern design in architecture. The question here, as with many preservation-related projects, is whether surface-level decoration—neon lights, flamboyant archways, and textured materials—convey the essence of a work enough to allow for fundamental changes in use and organization or whether true preservation requires more. The question has gained greater urgency in the weeks following the death of Robert Venturi and amid a growing climate of uncertainty for not only VSBA’s works, but for elements of postmodern heritage in general. According to Scott Brown’s interpretation, the project’s plan—inspired by the double-coded logic of medieval European town squares and urban economic theory—is as important to MCASD’s status as a postmodern work as the building’s more visually-aggressive elements, highlighting the fundamental disagreement at hand. Either way, Scott Brown’s petition and the global outcry have not been enough to cause thinking on the project to shift significantly. Site work has been underway at the complex over the last few months as crews worked to remove a monumental pergola associated with the VSBA addition. Last week’s official groundbreaking indicates the project is moving forward at full-steam. Despite the demolition of the colonnade, the La Jolla Historical Society was able to salvage one of the two pergola structures and has since installed the fiberglass and steel assembly in a nearby garden that is free to the public and open for visitors. Selldorf Architects’ additions are scheduled to be completed in 2021.
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Annabelle Selldorf to receive Lawrence Israel Prize from FIT

Annabelle Selldorf has been named this year’s recipient of the Lawrence Israel Prize from the Interior Design program at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. The prize, which has been given for the past 20 years, was endowed by the late architect Lawrence J. Israel to recognize architects and designers who “enrich students’ course of study.” Past recipients include, among others, SHoP Architects, Gaetano Pesce, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, and Billie Tsien. FIT says Selldorf, of the eponymous firm Selldorf Architects, is a “role model for all students of design” for her work in architecture, interiors, and furniture. Selldorf Architects has been making headlines with numerous projects in the city and further afield, including the recently opened Swiss Institute on St. Marks and their expansions to the Frick Collection and the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego. Selldorf will deliver a lecture when she accepts the award on Monday, October 29, at the Katie Murphy Amphitheatre at FIT in New York City.
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Fight over Venturi Scott Brown’s work in San Diego escalates as new petition emerges

As a controversial plan to expand the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) San Diego campus by Selldorf Architects forges ahead, Denise Scott Brown and other notable figures have come out in defense of a 1995 Venturi Scott Brown Associates-designed (VSBA) postmodern addition to the complex that is in danger of being altered. Selldorf Architects unveiled their $55 million expansion plans for the 75-year-old museum in La Jolla, California, in 2015, promising to double its overall size to 104,000 square feet while also quadrupling the museum’s galleries to include a total of 40,000 square feet of exhibition space. Originally opened in 1941 in a private residence designed by noted California architect Irving Gill in 1915 for journalist and philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps—founder of the nearby Scripps Research Institute and of Scripps College in Claremont, California—the MCA complex has been heavily altered and adapted over the years. Major renovations by San Diego architects Mosher Drew added formal galleries to the home in 1950 and an auditorium in 1960. A subsequent renovation by the firm in 1980 added the first climate control system for a west coast museum. VSBA’s additions came roughly 15 years later and included adding a new entry sequence while also expanding the museum’s footprint by adding 5,000 square feet of new galleries and a cafe, restaurant, and gift shop. According to Scott Brown, the 1995 addition, executed in association with architect David Singer, was designed to align the growing museum with the town of La Jolla by creating a series of artful gathering spaces where the museum could hold public events without exposing valuable artworks to wear and tear. Describing the carefully crafted entry sequence and the addition’s signature entry hall, Denise Scott Brown told The Architect’s Newspaper, “We added a place that is artistic and fun but with no paintings that could get hurt.” The iconic space, known as the Axline Court after a donor who contributed to the project, is made up of a previously-existing courtyard VSBA closed-in. Starburst shaped, supported by scattershot piers, and topped with clerestory windows and sculptural, neon-lit arches, the hall has acted a grand entry vestibule for the complex for over 20 years and is an iconic postmodern space if there ever was one. The $6.18 million project aimed to “enrich the museum’s image and civic presence,” according to the firm’s website, a feat that was accomplished by uncovering and recreating certain historical elements while also adding new, dramatic spaces imbued with a late 1990s sensibility: cool beige and blue terrazzo floors to compliment the sea, oversized archways echoing neighboring buildings, and of course, copious neon signage. Venturi and Scott Brown also worked to expose and restore several elements of the original Irving Gill-designed façade along the town-facing side of the complex, including portions that had been demolished or covered up by the earlier Mosher Drew interventions. In spectacular PoMo fashion, the designs included a pair of super-sized, vine-covered pergolas recreated out of fiberglass and steel in homage to Gill’s original designs. The pergolas, bookended by the cafe and Axline court, created a new, multi-faceted entry for the complex articulated as a breezy, covered walkway. The initial Gill-designed building was itself originally fronted by a set of pergolas—crafted out of wood—as are several other buildings in the area also designed by Gill, including the nearby Women’s Club building, now home to the La Jolla Historical Society. To the south of the pergolas, the VSBA-designed facade wraps the main entry containing the Axline Court as well as the auditorium from 1960. The volumes are sheathed in stucco walls punctuated by a series of arch-topped windows. The arched windows are another nod to the Gill-designed buildings nearby. Along its backside, the VSBA additions spill out over a sandy cliff overlooking the ocean. Designed after the 1990 passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the VSBA addition brought accessibility to the complex, as well, adding a series of sloped concrete ramps along this exposure that are terraced into the hillside as a meandering trail. Selldorf’s addition to the complex would reconfigure and hollow-out the auditorium along the front of the building into a new main entry, gift shop, and large double-height gallery. The building would be extended southward from there in a collection of smaller new gallery spaces organized into a pair of bars the form a wedged shape in plan. Another oceanside terrace would be added at the back of the new wing, as well. Annabelle Selldorf, principal of the New York City-based Selldorf Architects, explained that the expansion is vitally necessary for the museum because the 1995 addition “devoted little new space to exhibiting art,” due in part to a change in scope for the project partway through design. The museum in its current configuration simply doesn’t have enough space according to Kathryn Kanjo, MCA executive director and has “remained constrained” over the years despite the 1995 addition. Kanjo explained in a call that she and the museum board are interested in being able to display MCA’s permanent collection while also showcasing traveling exhibitions. Under the current configuration, the museum has to choose between those options, an untenable position for an institution striving to serve a broad and diverse public, Kanjo said. With the additions, the director hopes to reshape the complex “strategically” and “sensitively” in a way that adds “coherence to complexity” but also remains respectful to the existing portions of the building. “Annabelle [Selldorf] appealed to us as an architect for this reason,” Kanjo said. Selldorf echoed the sentiment, explaining that her office sought to “have a dialogue with the existing buildings and to to examine how they can evolve” while creating an addition that allows visitors to “understand they’re moving through different eras of the building,” with activity to be funneled through the new portions. Selldorf added that although the Axline Court “won’t be the entrance anymore, it will have a more distinct function and will feel a bit like the center of gravity” for the complex. Scott Brown is not buying it, however. The award-winning architect described the latest renovation plans as “pretty enough” to win the approval of board members but severely lacking in terms of its relationship to La Jolla’s street life among several aspects of the designs she takes issue with. Scott Brown is particularly against the idea of a new entrance as proposed by Selldorf, saying that the proposed addition did not understand the intricate “retail choreography” embedded in the existing layout and that relocating the entrance would destroy the “linkages” between museum and town VSBA’s designs sought to put into place. Scott Brown said, “[MCA] needs the support of the town and the town needs its support—If they pull the two apart and place the entrances too far apart from each other, it won’t work anymore.” Supporters of the VSBA project recently sent Kanjo and the MCA board a petition calling the proposed additions a “tremendous mistake” that damage “a cultural landmark” while also “severely weakening La Jolla’s beloved village center.” The petition is signed by 70 architectural thinkers, academics, and practitioners, including the deans of Harvard and Penn and several chief architecture curators at the Museum of Modern Art, the Getty Research Institute, and the MAXXI Museum. Scholars Stanislaus von Moos, Esther da Costa Meyer, and Jean-Louis Cohen, critics Charles Jencks, Martin Filler, and Paul Goldberger, and architects Toshiko Mori, Robert A.M. Stern, and Sir Terry Farrell signed on the petition as well. In part, the petition reads:
VSB’s design, unlike that of the proposed expansion, arises from careful study and understanding of La Jolla’s urban form. Its street frontage, museum store, and cafe extend the rhythm of Prospect Street’s lively storefronts, celebrating the museum’s location in the village commercial center and drawing visitors toward the building. At the entrance, visitors then encounter an urbane courtyard that fronts the museum’s Irving Gill-designed Scripps House: it invites them to rest for a moment, enjoy Gill’s architecture, have a coffee, and then enter the museum. This well-loved urban space is now threatened by the museum’s expansion plan. The plan, drawn up by New York-based Selldorf Architects, would tear down much of VSB’s facade as well as their dramatic colonnade—interrupting the urbane rhythm of the street and destroying the courtyard. And it would move the museum’s entry to a formulaic glass lobby that thumbs its nose at Gill’s architecture. Demolishing the colonnade is billed as a way of making the house more visible—but actually, it would prevent visitors from experiencing it in the way Gill intended: from the intimate, pedestrian-scaled space in front of it. And it would destroy the sense of enclosure that VSB created for the adjacent town green formed by a group of surrounding Gill-designed buildings. The new plan is a slap in the face to Gill: to the composition of the group as a whole and in particular to the Scripps House, which without the colonnade would be left looking small and insubstantial, overshadowed by the museum’s later additions.
The petition implores the museum to “come up with a plan for expansion that is sensitive and respectful to the village of La Jolla” as well as the VSBA designs and references the recent landmarking of VSBA’s Sainsbury Wing at the National Gallery in London as an appropriate way of acknowledging VSBA’s work in San Diego. For now, MCA’s plans are moving full-steam ahead. The museum has been closed since last year and groundbreaking is scheduled for this fall. The project is fully-entitled and construction documents are currently in development. Worse yet to Scott Brown’s efforts, removal of existing sections has already begun. One of the VSBA-designed pergolas was removed a few weeks ago and was transferred to a new privately-held parklet being planned by the La Jolla Historical Society. Explaining the rationale behind moving the pergola structure, Heath Fox, executive director of the La Jolla Historical Society told AN, “I happen to be a person who appreciates postmodern architecture and envisioned an opportunity to save the VSBA pergolas as a piece of new garden.” Fox added, “The park will add an important piece of history to the neighborhood and will keep the pergola in the Scripps community.”  
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Swiss Institute moves into Selldorf-designed building on St. Marks

The Swiss Institute for Contemporary Art has opened its new 7,500 square foot Selldorf Architects-designed location on St. Marks Place in New York City. Taking over four levels of a former bank built in 1954 and designed by Alfred Hopkins and Associates, the renovation is, in the words of Swiss Institute director Simon Castets, a “counter narrative” to the building’s former financial, low-occupancy use. The Selldorf redesign uses a seemingly minimal touch. Though there have been significant changes—full stairwells and elevators have been added along with a total plan rework—the overall architectural sensibility feels light and unimposing. White walls remain unadorned. Flooring is understated. On all ceilings, ductwork, lighting, and structural elements remain exposed—a departure from many recent galleries in the city that have instead focused on hiding every functional detail, even the lighting, as much as possible. Curators generally aren’t keen on losing space to the workaday trappings of administrative necessity. Swiss Institute has filled every corner, wall, stairwell, and even the elevator with art to allow “artists to reclaim the space lost to New York City building code” as part of the SI ONSITE program. Stairwells feature sculptures and frescoes by Shahryar Nashat and Latifa Echakhch. The elevator has been turned into an artwork, skinned in a welcoming pink from Sherwin Williams called “Memorable Rose,” which is taken from the color of a tongue by artist Pamela Rosenkranz for an installation appropriately titled Color of a Tongue (Director) (2018). A cellar gallery remains honest about what it really is with layers of gray paint applied by Dusty Baker. https://www.instagram.com/p/Bkd-vN1FN80/?taken-at=1339491416095759 Like the building itself, the current exhibition, Readymades Belong to Everyone (open through August 19), is packed with art. The first floor, which features ceilings that soar over 17 feet, is dense with all variety of sculpture and 2D work. Despite lower ceilings, the new location's upper level is airy, wrapped in windows with exposed wood shining on the ceiling. There is a reading room, currently taken over by a project from Heman Chong in collaboration with Ken Liu. Chong and Liu’s Legal Books (Shanghai) features hundreds of books selected by Liu, a sci-fi writer and attorney, inspired by thinking on the Chinese legal system. The art instillation-cum-reading room features painted curtains by Jill Mulleady, another way in which the Institute is packing in the art. https://www.instagram.com/p/BkVg-UtlioO/?taken-at=5122362 One enters from Second Avenue to find a visitor welcome desk and a bookshop from Printed Matter. The entire space is decked out in the clean lines of USM’s furniture, and behind the visitor information desk is John Armleder’s Royal Flush (2018) installation of mirrored tiles reminiscent of a disco ball. https://www.instagram.com/p/BkYmINDnsN8/?taken-at=5122362 The Swiss Institute also takes the art outdoors with a terrace that places visitors in the midst of the city. The current plein air setup includes work by Valentin Carron, Nancy Lupo, and Michael Wang. In Wang's Extinct in the Wild series, the artist references Peter Stuyvesant's original orchard, composed of native plants that now only grow with human care and populated what is now the East Village. Signage on the building is multilingual, not merely with the four official languages of Switzerland, but also with the most spoken languages in the Swiss Institute's new surrounding area: English, Spanish, and Chinese. The Swiss Institute, which has free admission, has also been collaborating with local community organizations for artist-led workshops and is actively celebrating the artistic history and present of their new East Village location. The Swiss Institute’s new 38 St. Marks location opens with the exhibition Readymades Belong to Everyone, on view now, curated by Fredi Fischli and Niels Olsen. In addition to the artists described above, the show features many architects and designers including OFFICE, Rem Koolhaas, MOS Architects, and Sauter von Moos in collaboration with Herzog and de Meuron.
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Revised Frick expansion clears Landmarks but still faces challenges

A revised scheme for the Selldorf Architects-designed expansion of Manhattan’s Frick Collection with Beyer Blinder Belle (BBB) acting as executive architects has gained approval from the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC). While commissioners voiced their concern over the addition’s fenestration and whether enough was done to move the proposed programming underground, they ultimately voted to approve the presented plan. That approval still faces resistance from local residents and preservationist groups, including an injunction hearing scheduled for this September that could slow the project down further. In approving the expansion, landmarks commissioners noted the support the project had drawn from the public, including from architects, preservationists, art historians, curators, and landscape architects, but acknowledged they had also received emails in opposition as well. Four grandchildren of Henry Clay Frick have signed letters signaling their support, and the commissioners were quick to mention their prior approval of the more experimental, Jeanne Gang-led expansion at the American Museum of Natural History. Community groups such as the City Club and Landmarks Conservancy have also voiced their support. In the Conservancy's testimony before the LPC, they stated that their Public Policy Committee had “found that the new limestone-clad additions are appropriate in their height, massing, and materials. They draw inspiration from the historic buildings in a respectful manner. The rooftop addition to the Reception Hall will rise gracefully from the building, in the manner of a conservatory. The connecting link is modest, but well-considered. There will be no loss of historic fabric, and while some façade elements of the Library Building will be less visible, they will not be removed or altered by this project.” The original scheme for the Frick's latest expansion was presented at a May 29 hearing where the public was invited to openly comment. Selldorf and BBB had proposed increasing the floor area of the Frick by 10 percent­­­­(18,000 square feet) to provide room for new conservation areas, offices, and gallery spaces with 1,800 of that square footage to be placed underground. Perhaps the most debated portions of the expansion plan touch on the Russell Page-designed garden on East 70th Street which was added in 1977. Installing the proposed 220-seat auditorium below the garden will require removing the garden above and reinstalling it exactly as it was before. The north wall of the 4,100-square-foot garden, part of the 1977 Bayley, Van Dyke & Poehler addition that originally created the garden, is also on the block to be rebuilt. As the scheme calls for the library to rise directly over the garden’s northern wall, a series of hornbeam trees behind the wall that were planted in 2010 (replacing pear trees placed by Page to mask the back of the existing library building) would need to be removed. The original plan had placed the new library almost flush with the north wall, but the trees were ultimately spared in the final version. Annabelle Selldorf was on hand for the follow-up LPC meeting on June 26 and explained that by setting the addition’s massing back three feet from the north wall’s edge, they were able to carve out a shelf behind the cornice for replacement trees. The smaller hornbeams would be located in the same positions as their predecessors and are intended to recreate the trompe l’oeil, the sense that the garden stretches on past its confines, that the current trees bring to the landscape. Selldorf was adamant that shaving three feet off of the addition was the most that can be done, and that tightening the massing any further was impossible due to programmatic requirements. The circular John Russell Pope-designed Music Room, set to be dismantled to make way for more special exhibition space, was briefly discussed as commissioners prodded the Frick to explain why the space couldn’t be repurposed. Museum representatives explained the difficulty in staging exhibitions inside of a round room and the associated temporary architecture required, and that more space was needed to display their collection. The Music Room’s Versailles-patterned wood floors and non-structural wall panels will be reused in the replacement gallery space, and the entire room will be 3D scanned and included in the Frick’s collection. That is, if the room is actually taken apart. As the commissioners noted during this week’s meeting, an active Request for Evaluation (RFE) to designate the Music Room, West Gallery & Enamels Room, and the 1977 Reception Hall as interior landmarks is currently being processed. Questions were raised over whether approving the expansion would preclude the music room’s designation, but commissioners received clarification that the two items were not in conflict with each other. It was entered into the record that the LPC takes a meticulous approach to interior designations and that if the RFE is approved, the scheme will have to be retooled to include a circular music room. Though the commissioners questioned the design team on whether more of the proposed programming could be moved underground­, the plan presented was approved with six votes for, one against, and one commissioner choosing to abstain. The Frick is an individual landmark within the landmarked Upper East Side Historic District, but commissioners highlighted the fact that the Frick Collection is a campus of separate buildings from many different time periods when making their final decision. Opponents have compiled a laundry list of complaints against the Selldorf and BBB plan. The Stop Irresponsible Frick Development (SIFD) coalition, a collection of architects, preservationists, and activists gathered on the steps of City Hall on June 25 to make their voices heard about why the expansion should be halted. Citing the lack of time given to the public to review the revised scheme, the LPC’s failure to consider landmarking the Music Room first, the potential conflict of interest arising from interim LPC chair and BBB partner Fred Bland’s participation in the process, the necessity of the Frick to expand its collection to such a degree, and the addition of a glassy café topper above the reception hall, the group had tried to delay the June 26 vote. Although an emergency temporary restraining order was submitted by the group on June 25 to the State Supreme Court, the judge decided not to grant the measure. However, an injunction hearing has been scheduled for September, which will force the Frick to defend their decisions in court and risks throwing a wrench in the project’s timeline. Preservationist Theodore Grunewald was responsible for filing the Music Room RFE (at the May 29th hearing itself, a first in the Commission's history) arguing that the room deserves to be judged on its own merits. This is the first time that an RFE for a separate part of a project has been raised independently before the LPC. In an op-ed published to the New York Times on June 25, Martha Frick Symington Sanger, a great-granddaughter of Henry Clay Frick, laid the groups concerns bare. “Let us engage an independent professional to evaluate the feasibility of excavation for proposed new facilities,” wrote Sanger, although the LPC noted that they have, historically, never taken outside design considerations into account when making their decisions. “Revisit the possibility of modernizing and repurposing existing underground facilities; purchase the adjacent, 6,000-square-foot building that is currently on the market for less than 10 percent of the anticipated cost of the current proposal; and seek landmark status for the music room, which could just as easily be preserved as a gallery.” The full presentation given at the June 26 LPC meeting is available here. According to the Frick, construction on the addition will not begin until 2020. AN will continue to provide updates on this story as they become available.
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The Frick adjusts expansion plans before next Landmarks meeting

The Frick Collection has further tweaked its expansion plans once again following a Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) hearing on May 29, where the commission declined to make a decision at that time. Selldorf Architects and executive architects Beyer Blinder Belle (BBB) have gone back to the drawing board and have released new renderings of an altered scheme ahead of their next meeting before the commission. The latest scheme addresses–or at least attempts to rationalize–some of the concerns that preservationists and the community had towards the initial proposal to modernize the Upper East Side landmark. Several of the changes proposed in May to the massing of the John Russell Pope addition, and more specifically Russell Page’s 1977 garden, drew the most attention. In order to allow more natural light into the revamped conservation areas, Selldorf and BBB had originally proposed adding a topper to the northern wall of the Russel Page Garden. This will require rebuilding the section and removing the smaller trees planted on top of that wall, dismantling Page’s late addition of a trompe l’oeil garden designed to hide the backs of the adjacent, non-Frick buildings. The revised plan would instead see hornbeams, the same type of tree currently in use, planted behind a modified limestone cornice above the new ground floor windows (which have had operable shutters added to match the existing trellises). The locations of the new trees would attempt to hew as closely to the original plan as possible. The Frick’s plan to dismantle the first floor Music Room and install a special exhibitions area were also elaborated on after preservationists decried the potential loss of auditorium. In notes included with the new scheme, the team explained that the Frick’s mission has always first and foremost been the showcasing of art, and that the conversion of rooms into gallery spaces has historical precedent. The poor acoustic qualities of the auditorium for amplifying speech was highlighted as particularly problematic, as the space is primarily used for holding lectures. The Music Room, if demolished, would be preserved via a 3-D laser scan and photographic survey, with the information added to the Frick’s archive. A modern below-grade auditorium would replace the Music Room and provide more space for lectures, concerts, and other engagements. The room's wood floor and non-structural wall sections would be preserved in the archive as physical artifacts. The Selldorf/BBB team used the opportunity to further elaborate on their plans for expanding the Frick’s subterranean programming. The underground mechanical systems would be upgraded and consolidated and replaced with new gallery and special exhibition spaces, as well as extra back-of-house areas for the staff and new conservation areas. The team explained that their options when planning the underground portion were limited by the site’s plantings and the difficulty associated with creating new required egresses; it wasn't possible, or desired, to cut new exits into the museum's gardens or gallery spaces. AN will follow up on this story when information regarding the next LPC meeting becomes available; the item was originally scheduled to be heard on June 19 but was rescheduled. The full presentation is available here.
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AN takes a deep dive into Frick Collection expansion plans

After a major, failed expansion attempt a few years ago, the Frick Collection, that venerable Upper East Side museum and library, revealed its latest renovation plans last month. The Frick tapped Selldorf Architects and Beyer Blinder Belle to bump up the landmarked building's footprint by ten percent, while sinking most of the rest of the program underground. Now, a few days before the architects present their ideas to the city's Landmarks commission for approval, more details on the addition and renovation have emerged. When the Frick went public with Selldorf's design in April, reactions were mixed, but mostly positive. The tallest addition will grow two stories from the building’s music room, while an addition adjacent to the library will top out at the same height as that building. The above-ground additions should preserve sightlines into John Russell Page's gated garden, while a below-ground auditorium and galleries will add give the Frick more space for events and shows. A major goal is to improve the flow between rooms, which will be achieved in part by linking the new second floor galleries with the enlarged lobby and the auditorium beneath the garden. That space is badly needed. The institution is mounting more exhibitions and welcoming more visitors than any time in its history, but its building is strained at the seams. The Frick says its galleries are too packed, and the lightless ones below ground are less appealing to visitors. Wheelchair users must take an unglamorous ride in the service elevator to reach the main entrance. Workers in the conservation areas, meanwhile, labor in dark, cramped offices far from the service elevator. And there's nowhere to get coffee—unlike most other museums, the Frick doesn't have a cafe. Before building out below-ground spaces to make way for a 220-seat auditorium, a larger reception hall, and an upper lobby, the Frick plans to document and restore Page's design. The sculptures, reflecting pool, and north wall will be dismantled and rebuilt (the latter with a different design), while the paths will be restored to their dimensions with new gravel. According to the presentation submitted to Manhattan Community Board 8, which held a public meeting on the plans earlier this month, the garden's plants and trees will be "retained to the extent possible or replaced with appropriate species." As part of the Upper East Side Historic District and as an individual landmark, any changes to the Frick have to be approved by the city's Landmarks commission. Carrère and Hastings, the same architects behind New York Public Library's 42nd Street main branch, designed the original, now-landmarked Beaux Arts home for the Frick family in 1914, as well as an attached library in 1924. (That structure was demolished a decade later to make room for a museum and library conversion by John Russell Pope.) These buildings, plus 1977 and 2011 additions by Bayley Van Dyke Poehler and Davis Brody Bond, respectively, comprise the majority of the significant, still-visible work on the site until now. Although the exterior was landmarked in 1973, the interiors not protected. In mid-May, CB8's Landmarks Committee rejected Selldorf's designs (PDF), while the full board of CB8 couldn't come to a consensus on the appropriateness of the expansion when it considered the matter a few days later. Although community board votes are only advisory and non-binding, the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) takes their thoughts into account when it makes its decisions on whether to modify a landmark. Overall, most preservationists prefer Selldorf's design to the Davis Brody Bond scheme the museum proposed a few years ago, but there's concern that interior renovations will sacrifice period interiors like Russell Pope's music room for white-box galleries and splashier events spaces. There's also growing concern around the Page garden. Current plans scuttle northern end of the 4,100-square-foot green space, which features trees of different species planted against a wall. Here's what landscape architect Laurie Olin had to say about Page's work in a recent letter to the Frick trustees that was printed by landscape preservationists at The Cultural Landscape Foundation (we've excerpted the letter, below):
I have always liked this garden and admired Page. It is inconceivable to propose to eliminate the northern planting above and beyond the wall that Page used to give an illusion of depth and of a garden beyond it to the north.  The pear trees, wall, planter, and door are key contributing elements of the garden. His famous asymmetrical planting of four trees of different species plays off not just against the rectangular basin but also this uniform layered plane of green that one thinks the door goes into. It’s a thought worthy of Borromini if he’d had a green thumb, and a mark of Page’s genius and subtlety. These elements are not expendable, but the conclusion of a remarkably witty and brilliant solution to a difficult problem, that of a tiny urban space hemmed in by buildings – one that has challenged designers and artists since Roman times. I have on numerous occasions in my teaching graduate students in landscape architecture and garden design over the decades used this as an example of how a skillful designer can overcome the awkward problem of such a small space in a dense urban setting. I urge you to save your Russell Page garden, the whole garden, not just some of it.
In its testimony to the LPC, historic preservation advocacy organization the Historic Districts Council (HDC) suggested the shelf above the north garden wall, now festooned with trees, be maintained to add interest to the library's rear wall. Meanwhile, in a long letter to the LPC chair, Henry Clay Frick's great-granddaughter Martha Frick Symington Sanger wrote expressed disappointment in the "over-the-top architectural expansion that promises to alter the landmarked buildings and severely compromise the historic Russell Page Garden [sic]." For those who want to have their say on the Frick, the LPC is hearing from the museum, the architects, and the public at its May 29 meeting. The hearing begins at 9:30 a.m., and the exact time should be posted on the agency's website today. At meetings with preservationists at the Frick in May, HDC Executive Director Bankoff confirmed that Selldorf Architects principal Annabel Selldorf said the designs were "schematic"—typically, architects seek the LPC's approval when their designs are final. While the Frick has done a "very good job" at community outreach, given the complexity of the proposal, "I would be shocked if the LPC approved this in one hearing," Bankoff said.
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Frick Collection reveals expansion by Selldorf Architects

Today the Frick Collection released a new set of renovation designs by Selldorf Architects that will increase the museum's square footage by ten percent.

The Upper East Side institution faced stiff opposition for the redesign scheme it unveiled in 2015, with critics condemning a six-story building by Davis Brody Bond that would have supplanted the museum's garden on East 70th Street. The new plans preserve the garden, while adding 27,000 square feet of space within the Frick's home, a 1914 Gilded Age mansion designed by Carrère and Hastings.

Instead of looming over the greenery, some of that new space will be underground. The institution is building a 220-seat auditorium under the garden, which was designed by Russell Page, one of the last century's most renowned landscape architects. In concert with the additions, New York garden designer Lynden B. Miller is redoing the greensward to honor Page's original design intent.

Above the ground plane, the tallest addition will sprout in two stories from the building's music room, while the lobby won't rise more than five feet above where it sits now. Another building behind the seven-story library will top out at the library's height. Collectively, these additions should preserve more expansive sightlines into the garden, and add much-needed room for the Frick's growing collection.

“The Frick has always been one of my favorite museums because you get up close to the art and you can respond to the domestic spaces in your own way,” firm principal Annabelle Selldorf told the New York Times. “You’ll be able to come to the museum and do the exact same thing you do today, except that you’ll be able to go up the stairs and see these rooms.”

The museum selected Selldorf Architects to lead the project in December 2016 after a string of failed expansion attempts.

Selldorf is using contextual materials like Indiana limestone to integrate the 27,000 square feet of new programming, exhibition, and reception space into the Frick's existing 60,000 square feet. Her New York firm is removing a circular stair in the reception area, and moving the gift shop up a floor to open up the reception area and improve circulation between the first, second, and lower levels. New York's Beyer Blinder Belle is the executive architect on the project.

If all goes according to plan, construction is expected to begin in 2020, at a cost of $160 million.
Correction 4/4/18: This post has been updated to reflect the fact that the 27,000 square feet will increase the Frick's footprint by ten percent, not 50.
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First renderings revealed for what could be Queens’ tallest building

The first renderings for the Handel Architects-designed skyscraper developed by the Durst Organization at 29-37 41st Avenue in Queens have been revealed. While the tower falls short of its 915-foot-tall predecessor by SLCE, Handel’s 751-foot-tall building will still dwarf the clock tower at its base. The renderings, first obtained by CityRealty, show a massive concave tower, sheathed in a glass curtain wall, set back from the rear of the 90-year-old landmarked Clock Tower. Crowned Queens Plaza Park by prior developers Property Markets Group and the Hakim Organization (before Durst snatched up the site for $175 million in 2016), the 978,000-square-foot development will hold office space, retail, and 958 residential rental units. According to the project’s website, 300 of the units will be affordable, and Selldorf Architects will be handling the tower’s interiors and amenity spaces, complete with an outdoor pool, 20,000-square-foot gym, library, co-working spaces and a demonstration kitchen. A half-acre public park will also sit in front of the residential entrance. Construction on the 70-story skyscraper is already underway, and CityRealty recently visited the site to photograph the cleared area around the base of the Clock Tower. Additionally, the locations of the ground-floor retail and the sharp, almost bat symbol-like shape of the building’s crown have been released thanks to the axonometric zoning diagrams released by the New York City Department of Buildings. The project’s central concave curve, the tower’s defining feature, should span nearly 200 feet from end-to-end once completed. The 11-story, neo-gothic Clock Tower was built in 1927 and housed the former Bank of Manhattan, and Durst has promised to restore the building as part of the redevelopment. While the tower was previously a notable standout in an area increasingly inundated with glass facades, the Handel-designed addition should blend into the surrounding urban fabric a bit more, even if the Clock Tower itself will remain distinct from the tower. There’s also the concern that the skyscraper’s curved form could trigger a Walkie-Talkie-esque fiasco, in which the reflective properties of that building ignited fires, but hopefully Handel has learned from Rafael Viñoly’s mistakes. If finished before the 984-foot-tall City View Tower, also in Long Island City and slated for a 2019 completion, Queens Plaza Park would take the distinction of Queens' tallest building.
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David Zwirner taps Renzo Piano to design new $50 million Chelsea gallery

Art dealer David Zwirner has announced plans for a new, five-story, $50 million gallery to be designed by Renzo Piano. The gallery will rise on a corner lot at 540 West 21st Street that is currently under demolition. The developer is Casco Development, and the gallery will be linked to a 20-story residential tower but stand as a separate structure. The gallery building will be constructed close to Zwirner's current galleries in Chelsea, which includes one on West 19th Street and one on West 20th Street. Zwirner also owns a gallery on the Upper East Side, and is set to expand in Asia, with a gallery opening in Hong Kong on January 25th. Including the West 21st Street gallery, this would bring the total number of his galleries to seven worldwide. Zwirner indicated that after the opening of his new gallery, he would probably close the gallery space on 19th Street, which he rents. As Zwirner told The New York Times, Piano is "one of my great heroes." Zwirner, who previously worked with Annabel Selldorf on his current galleries, also said that Piano was the developer's choice. While Piano is well known for his museum projects, this will be the architect's first commercial gallery. Zwirner is one of the art world's most successful dealers. This five-story building, with three floors dedicated to gallery space, would serve as a kind of calling card and headquarters for his art empire. While the design process is in the early stages, Piano told the Times that his design would emphasize “a visual psychological connection between the building and the street,” as in his design at the Whitney Museum of Art. The news comes as Zwirner prepares for a 25-year anniversary exhibition, opening this weekend on January 13th. The new gallery is scheduled to open in the fall of 2020, with groundbreaking expected sometime this spring.
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Annabelle Selldorf designs new Marianne Boesky Gallery in Aspen

New York—based architect Annabelle Selldorf (under her firm Selldorf Architects) has designed a new space for the Marianne Boesky Gallery in Aspen, Colorado. The new 3,000-square-foot project, known as "Boesky West," will occupy the former cabin of 1800s photographer James “Horsethief” Kelly.

Working with local studio David Johnston Architects, the cabin will be reconfigured to serve as a new arm for the Marianne Boesky Gallery, which is located in Chelsea, New York. While the inaugural exhibition is still in the works, the gallery will open in Aspen on March 8, 2017. However, works by artists Frank Stella and Larry Bell, who are good friends with Marianne Boesky, will be on show come March 8. The exhibition will look at the pair's work in the realm of abstraction, material, light, and space while forming a discussion around their practices.

“I have long been inspired by Aspen’s extreme landscape, and the creativity that it has fueled among artists, musicians, writers, and so many other individuals of diverse background and interests," said Marianne Boesky in a press release. "With the evolution of my vision for the New York-based locations, now seemed the right moment to launch a new platform to inspire further engagement with this vibrant landscape... I see Boesky West as a space to present the work of our artists in a completely different context and environment than New York, expanding the experience of their work and introducing it to new audiences. At the same time, Boesky West offers the gallery more opportunity to experiment and collaborate with not only artists, but with curators, art historians, critics, and other members of the community.”

Last year the gallery's flagship Chelsea location doubled its size to 13,000 square feet and now, with the new space in Aspen, Boesky intends to create opportunities for interaction among artists and Aspen's dramatic landscape and its cultural community.

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Selldorf Architects tapped for Frick Collection expansion

New York–based art-world veterans Selldorf Architects will helm The Frick Collection’s enhancement of its existing Upper East Side Manhattan home, the Henry Clay Frick House. Selldorf was selected from 20 candidates after an 18-month review period.

The Frick’s road to expansion has been rocky. In June 2015, in the face of strong criticism from architects and preservationists, the museum abandoned plans to replace a gated garden with an historicist six-story tower by Davis Brody Bond. That added to a string of failed expansions (in 2001, 2005, and 2008) but the museum vowed to increase its exhibition space.

According to the Frick representatives, this latest round will work within the building’s existing footprint. The upgrades include converting a set of second-floor rooms to galleries, creating a new special gallery on the main floor, improving circulation and accessibility for those with physical disabilities, and installing new facilities dedicated to educational programming and conservation.

For now, the expansion is in its earliest stages. The configuration of the second-floor galleries and the placement of the new facilities haven’t been decided but more details will be revealed during winter 2017–2018.