Clark selects architect for museum renovations

Saturday, February 24
WILLIAMSTOWN — The Clark Art Institute has chosen New York-based Selldorf Architects to complete the design work for renovations on the museum's original 1955 building as part of its ongoing building project. When completed, the project will feature the addition of two more buildings and renovation of the entire museum.

The project is set to wrap up in 2013 and will include structures designed by Japanese architect Tadao Ando. Plans for the existing white marble building call for the addition of more than 5,000 square feet of gallery space and a reorientation of the building's entrance back to its east-west access.

"The intention with the 1955 building is not so much to change it as to make it feel the same, only better," said Annabelle Selldorf, principal of Selldorf Architects.

Although much of the work in the master plan — which was announced in 2003 — is designed to reshape and better utilize the 140-acre campus, Selldorf's work will focus on bringing the museum's signature building into the 21st century with a sense of continuity and respect for its unique presence.

It also will be to preserve its original mission. "We want the 1955 building to still be the cherished center and heart of the museum," Selldorf said.

But that said, buildings do need updating.

"As a person ages, a building does as well," she said, noting that minor adjustments are needed along the way, including making room and taking advantage of advancements in lighting and conservation technology.

She said Clark administrators and curators were "very clear and very insistent that everything that works so beautifully now is not disturbed."

Clark Director Michael Conforti said this is a sensitive part of the project.

"It's a very special building," he said. "People like it, and they like the way they see art in it."

Work continues on following the Clark's master plan, with the $25 million Ando-designed Stone Hill Center representing Phase I of the project. Scheduled to open in summer 2008, it will feature additional gallery space, a meeting and studio art classroom, a terrace, a cafe and the Williamstown Art Conservation Center.

Phase II will feature construction of an exhibition, visitor and conference center designed by Ando, plus renovations to the 1955 building and to the newer building that houses the library and administrative offices. That project, which does not yet have a final estimated price tag, will begin in 2010 and be completed in 2013.


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