Art of Americas Wing at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston / Foster + Partners

© Nigel Young, Foster + Partners

The Museum of Fine Arts, (MFA) recently unveiled their new Art of Americas Wing designed by Foster + Partners in collaboration with CBT/Childs Bertman Tseckares of .  The carefully designed wing, contributed to the restored and augmented visitors experience, that reinstates the original formal axis of the Musuem and its relationship to the linear Back Bay Fens park designed by Frederick Law Olmsted in 1877.  The new wing hosts 53 new galleries including the Art of the Americas collections, and consolidates the Museum’s five great collections into a more cohesive and understandable whole.

Norman Foster  commented that, “The MFA is more than a great cultural institution – it is the catalyst for the rejuvenation of an entire neighbourhood in Boston. Over time the Museum had lost its connection to the Back Bay Fens and the beautiful landscape of Frederick Law Olmsted’s ‘Emerald Necklace’. In restoring Lowell’s original plan and in opening up and reasserting the grand Fenway entrance, we have rediscovered this link. At the same time, we have drawn the landscape deep into the heart of the building and along Huntington Avenue. The result is a more legible museum that will create new connections between the park, the Museum and the local community.”

More details about the new Art of Americas Wing after the break.

Architects: Foster + Partners
Location: Boston, , USA
Foster + Partners Project Team: Norman Foster, Spencer de Grey, Michael Jones, Kate Murphy, John Small, William Castagna, Benedicte Artault, Robin Blanchard, Jan Coghlan, Chris Connell, Aaron Davis, Gennaro di Dato, James Edwards, Dagmar Eisenach, Morgan Fleming, Kristin Fox, Herbert Gsottbauer, Anthony Guma, Sean Hanna, Rie Haslov, Judith Kernt, Ismael Juan Khan, Kohelika Kohli, Abel Maciel, Peter Matcham, Pablo Menendez Paz, Aidan Monaghan, Yat Lun Ng, Mathis Osterhage, Silvia Paredes, Carol Patterson, Michael Pelken, Michael Richter, Katherine Ridley, Il Hoon Roh, Ingrid Sölken, Kinna Stallard, Matthew Stokes, Diego Suarez, Jane Tiley, Alexis Williams, Oliver Wong, Richard Yates
Architect of Record: CBT/Childs Bertman Tseckares Inc
Design Structural Engineers: Buro Happold
Structural Engineers of Record: Weidlinger Associates
Design MEP Engineers: Buro Happold
MEP Engineers of Record: WSP Flack + Kurtz
Landscape Architect: Gustafson Guthrie Nichol Ltd.
Civil Engineers: Nitsch Engineering Inc
Construction Management: George B.H. Macomber Company (Pre-Construction Services), Skanska USA Building Inc (Enabling Contractor), John Moriarty & Associates (General Contractor)
Client: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Project Area: 193,325 sqf (new construction)
Project Year: 2010
Photographs: Nigel Young, Foster + Parners

© Nigel Young, Foster + Partners

From Foster + Partners:
Founded in 1870, the Museum of Fine Arts is based on a Beaux-Arts plan devised by the architect Guy Lowell. Restoring the logic of the original scheme, the building’s central axis has been reasserted with the reintroduction of the principal entrance to the south, on Huntington Avenue on the Avenue of the Arts, and the reopening of that to the north, the State Street Corporation Fenway Entrance. At the heart of this axis is a new information centre, where visitors begin their tour.

© Nigel Young, Foster + Partners

Alongside is a freestanding glazed structure, which has been inserted between the building’s two main pavilions to create the Art of the Americas Wing. Arranged over four floors, the new wing significantly increases the Museum’s exhibition space, enabling some 5,000 works from the collection to be displayed. The project is the first time Foster + Partners has comprehensively designed a complete gallery wing, including installations and fit-out – the plan for the 53 galleries was the result of close collaboration with the Museum’s curators and conservators. Where the central building of the wing meets the axis of the main building, it partly encloses an existing courtyard in glass. This creates spaces for visitors, a café, special events and access to other collections with a new gallery for special exhibitions beneath.

Designed to be energy efficient, the courtyard is naturally lit and the galleries have state-of-the-art climate control. The gallery spaces are configured to allow art to be displayed with a more obvious sense of clarity and light. Surrounding the museum, new landscaping is designed to strengthen links with the Back Bay Fens, laid out by Olmsted, architect of New York’s Central Park. The landscape design follows Olmsted’s Romantic tradition of winding paths and informal planting to draw the greenery of the Fens into the building. In particular, the Fens landscape is drawn into the heart of the Museum, encapsulating the new Courtyard and American Wing.

© Nigel Young, Foster + Partners
© Nigel Young, Foster + Partners

Spencer de Grey, Head of Design at Foster + Partners, commented: “This has been one of the most fascinating projects. We have sought to combine the constraints of history with a new intervention that will show off the Museum’s extraordinary collection of American art in a way that will excite, entrance and educate. We have designed a major new Wing, inside and out, with 53 new galleries to complement the Museum’s other four collections which are clearly articulated along the original main axis. This re-addresses the balance of the Museum – at its heart the old courtyard is enclosed in glass to create new links and connections.”

section © Foster + Partners
© Nigel Young, Foster + Partners

Consultant List for Boston Museum of Fine Arts
Environmental Consultant: Epsilon Associates
Geotechnical Consultant: McPhail Associates, Inc
Permitting: Goulston & Storrs
Code Consultant: Hughes Associates
Transportation Consultant: Howard/Stein-Hudson
Lighting Consultant: George Sexton Associates
Acoustic & AV Consultant: Acentech Inc
Signage and Way Finding: Roll Barresi & Associates, Inc
External Envelope Consultant: Simpson Gumpertz & Heger Inc
Catering Consultant: Hammer Design Associates
Security Consultant: Ducibella Venter & Santore
Harward Consultant: IR Security & Safety Consultants
Space Planning: Robert Luchetti Associates Inc
Pedestrian Flow Consultant: Orca Consulting Group
Existing Conditions Survey: Existing Conditions Survey Inc
Specifications Writer: Kalin Associates, Inc
Elevator Consultant: Van Deusen Associates

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* Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
Cite: "Art of Americas Wing at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston / Foster + Partners" 28 Nov 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed 24 May 2015. <>
  • up_today_arch

    Outside view is sofisticated… I like this minimalism…

  • Matt

    Museum? Office Block? Bank? Who can say…