Architects: ikon.5 architects
Location: Yogi Berra Museum, Montclair State University, Little Falls, NJ 07424, USA
Area: 8000.0 ft2
Project Year: 2010
Photographs: James D’Addio
The Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center needed to upgrade and expand its exhibition and support space for the museum that uses the life lessons of Yogi Berra, the New York Yankees and baseball to teach and promote good sportsmanship, respect, integrity, social justice and the pursuit of excellence.
The museum also wished to transform its unwelcoming and defensive appearance. The existing museum is located in a minor league ballpark outbuilding on a very tight site and never properly addressed how to express or display the interesting baseball artifacts held within; such as, 10 world championship rings, World Series trophies, and baseballs signed by Babe Ruth. In addition to exhibiting baseball artifacts, the museum is a learning center where it conducts classes for young adults in leadership, citizenship and personal and social responsibility. The challenge, for this non-profit organization, was to expand space for exhibiting baseball’s finest memorabilia, to create space for group presentation, teaching, and receptions and to transform the exterior entrance appearance to reflect the persona of Yogi Berra within a very modest budget on a restrictive site.
The solution creates a single transparent gallery that serves as a flexible, multi-functioning exhibition area, collaborative teaching space and reception hall. This one room gallery addition is a ‘vitrine’ for displaying baseball memorabilia and the museum and learning centers’ mission. The overall architectural details are purposefully simple and unadorned to reflect the humility and simplicity of Yogi Berra. The structural columns that support the addition, for example, are composed of two structural ‘T’’s back to back which form a cruciform shape to minimize their appearance along the glazed perimeter. The addition has a visible presence and impact on the main access road that leads to the adjacent minor league ballpark that the museum shares its site with.
The transparent pavilion allows the exhibits, temporary and permanent, to be on display from those driving by along the access road. In this way, the museum has an active façade for advertising the treasures of baseball within and promoting the mission of the learning center. To personalize this minimalist glass box, Yogi Berra’s signature and his number ‘8’ are ceramic fritted on the glass enclosure. The project also involved re-creating the exhibits that display baseball’s finest memorabilia and adding important support spaces which allows the facility to operate as a museum, learning center and corporate events venue.