Buffalo’s Albright-Knox Art Gallery has selected OMA to expand and refurbish the historic museum and its campus. The project team is being lead by OMA New York’s Principal, Shohei Shigematsu, who will spend the next year in partnership with the museum and in consultation with the community on how to renew and revitalize the august institution. Known as AK360, the building will be OMA’s first art museum project in the United States, and the Albright-Knox’s first expansion in more than a half-century. According to the museum, the project’s name is a reflection on this being the institution’s third expansion in its 154-year history, in addition, it establishes an embrace of public feedback and the acknowledges the condition of being encircled by parkland.
The $80 million project – the largest ever undertaken by a cultural organization in Western New York – will expand the sixth-oldest public museum in the United States and one of the oldest anywhere dedicated to the art of our time. The museum’s existing buildings include a 1905 Beaux-Arts marble structure designed by Edward B. Green, and a space for social events and exhibitions designed in 1962 by Gordon Bunshaft of SOM; both are situated in Frederick Law Olmsted’s Delaware Park.
“We are thrilled to be part of this project, which will be important for many reasons including the convergence of historically significant architecture in Buffalo,” says Shohei Shigematsu. “[It will foster] a more intimate dialogue with the Olmsted landscape setting, answering the need for new exhibition space to display the Albright-Knox’s renowned collection, and positioning the museum to take a leading role in the city’s broader resurgence.”
The AK360 plan will add facilities for special exhibitions, create gallery space for twice the number of collection works previously on view, and will deliver updates throughout the museum’s campus, including more space for education, dining, and social activities, along with a more harmonious relationship to Delaware Park. In the words of the museum: “Realizing the expansion...will enable the Albright-Knox to operate more efficiently, provide enhanced service to the community, and anchor a vibrant cultural district in Western New York.”
“Our selection process sought creative approaches to the challenges of expanding and refurbishing the Albright-Knox,” said the museum’s Board President, Tom Hyde. “At the top of our list, we were looking for genuine sensitivity to our historic buildings and Olmsted campus, which anchor the increasingly vibrant Elmwood Avenue Cultural District. OMA/Shohei Shigematsu have demonstrated their creative approaches to building in complex sites, most recently at the Musée nationale des beaux-arts du Québec, which also connects parkland and urban landscape.”
AK360 was first envisioned in 2014, with the museum’s Board of Directors acknowledging the need for facility upgrades, more gallery space, and public program enhancements. The next phase of the project's development will begin in September.