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  1. ArchDaily
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  3. Philadelphia Museum of Art Breaks Ground on Frank Gehry's $196 Million Renovation Scheme

Philadelphia Museum of Art Breaks Ground on Frank Gehry's $196 Million Renovation Scheme

Philadelphia Museum of Art Breaks Ground on Frank Gehry's $196 Million Renovation Scheme
Philadelphia Museum of Art Breaks Ground on Frank Gehry's $196 Million Renovation Scheme, AFTER: The Forum, looking west and up to Lenfest Hall. The Forum extends from Level A to Level C and will be one of the most highly trafficked and recognizable areas created during the Core Project. This stunning space will serve as a venue for performances and events, as well as a welcoming spot for visitors to socialize or orient themselves. Architectural rendering by Gehry Partners, LLP and KX-L. Photo courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art.
AFTER: The Forum, looking west and up to Lenfest Hall. The Forum extends from Level A to Level C and will be one of the most highly trafficked and recognizable areas created during the Core Project. This stunning space will serve as a venue for performances and events, as well as a welcoming spot for visitors to socialize or orient themselves. Architectural rendering by Gehry Partners, LLP and KX-L. Photo courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art has broken ground on the Core Project, a $196 million transformation of its main building led by Frank Gehry. In total, the renovation will add a total of 90,000 square feet to the museum, including 67,000 square feet of new public space, 11,500 square feet of gallery space for the museum’s American Art collection, and another 11,500 square feet of contemporary art display space.

As suggested by its name, The Core Project will focus on the heart of the museum; the main circulation of the building will be completely reorganized and museum infrastructure will receive much-needed upgrades, improving access to the community and enhancing the visitor experience.

AFTER: The Forum, looking west and up to Lenfest Hall. The Forum extends from Level A to Level C and will be one of the most highly trafficked and recognizable areas created during the Core Project. This stunning space will serve as a venue for performances and events, as well as a welcoming spot for visitors to socialize or orient themselves. Architectural rendering by Gehry Partners, LLP and KX-L. Photo courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art. BEFORE: The Van Pelt Auditorium, shown here in 2016, is being demolished to create the Forum. The auditorium was not part of the original design for the building, which opened in 1928; it was added in 1959. Photograph by Elizabeth Leitzell. Photo courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art. BEFORE: The Van Pelt Auditorium, shown here in 2016, is being demolished to create the Forum. The auditorium was not part of the original design for the building, which opened in 1928; it was added in 1959. Photograph by Elizabeth Leitzell. Photo courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art. AFTER: The Forum, looking east. Many significant improvements are happening on Level A, including the removal of the auditorium to create the Forum. The heart of the Museum will be opened up to simplify wayfinding. Architectural rendering by Gehry Partners, LLP and KX-L. Photo courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art. + 37

Speaking about his approach to the design, Gehry recalls his first impressions of the space:

“I walked through the building and I saw that all you had to do was follow the yellow brick road, so to speak. It was all there, and it showed you what you could do."

AFTER: Upon entering the Museum via the West Entrance, visitors will be able to see up into the Great Stair Hall and down into the Forum, revealing pathways to art on all levels. Architectural rendering by Gehry Partners, LLP and KX-L. Photo courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art.
AFTER: Upon entering the Museum via the West Entrance, visitors will be able to see up into the Great Stair Hall and down into the Forum, revealing pathways to art on all levels. Architectural rendering by Gehry Partners, LLP and KX-L. Photo courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Central to the project will be the removal of the current auditorium to open up a new main axis through the building and a multi-level public space called ‘the Forum.’ A new grand staircase will pass through the Forum, connecting visitors from the historic 640-foot-long Vaulted Walkway to the floors above.

AFTER: Staircases are a signature feature of Frank Gehry’s design. Part of the challenge for the architect was to use a light touch, ensuring that the Museum’s history is preserved, yet brought into the modern era. This sleek, winding staircase is one of Gehry’s brilliant and subtle changes, leading to another set of steps, to the Forum. Architectural rendering by Gehry Partners, LLP and KX-L. Photo courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art.
AFTER: Staircases are a signature feature of Frank Gehry’s design. Part of the challenge for the architect was to use a light touch, ensuring that the Museum’s history is preserved, yet brought into the modern era. This sleek, winding staircase is one of Gehry’s brilliant and subtle changes, leading to another set of steps, to the Forum. Architectural rendering by Gehry Partners, LLP and KX-L. Photo courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art.
AFTER: Access is critical—and here Frank Gehry has again camouflaged his mark. These new ADAcompliant ramps update the entrance with a modern aesthetic, yet also feel as if they’ve always existed. Architectural rendering by Gehry Partners, LLP and KX-L. Photo courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art.
AFTER: Access is critical—and here Frank Gehry has again camouflaged his mark. These new ADAcompliant ramps update the entrance with a modern aesthetic, yet also feel as if they’ve always existed. Architectural rendering by Gehry Partners, LLP and KX-L. Photo courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Further increasing access to the building, the West terrace will be entirely rebuilt to integrate ADA-accessible ramps and the currently unused North Entrance will be reopened, allowing it to serve as the primary entrance for large groups and the large numbers of visiting schoolchildren. New classrooms and art studios for these groups will be equipped with the latest in education technology. Also included will be a restaurant, café, meeting rooms, and the large new art galleries. All spaces have been designed with respect to the building’s original architecture and materiality, resulting in a “seamless blending of old and new.”

AFTER: At the base of the steps in the Great Stair Hall, new sightlines will offer views of Lenfest Hall to help orient visitors. Architectural rendering by Gehry Partners, LLP and KX-L. Photo courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art.
AFTER: At the base of the steps in the Great Stair Hall, new sightlines will offer views of Lenfest Hall to help orient visitors. Architectural rendering by Gehry Partners, LLP and KX-L. Photo courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art.

The Core Project is the second phase of the long-term Facilities Master Plan envisioned by Gehry in 2006. The first project of the master plan, a new Art Handling Facility, was completed in 2012.

AFTER: The Forum, looking east. Many significant improvements are happening on Level A, including the removal of the auditorium to create the Forum. The heart of the Museum will be opened up to simplify wayfinding. Architectural rendering by Gehry Partners, LLP and KX-L. Photo courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art.
AFTER: The Forum, looking east. Many significant improvements are happening on Level A, including the removal of the auditorium to create the Forum. The heart of the Museum will be opened up to simplify wayfinding. Architectural rendering by Gehry Partners, LLP and KX-L. Photo courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art.
AFTER: The South Lobby will offer visitors a light-filled space with high ceilings for installations of contemporary art, including large-scale sculpture. What was once a dead end will now become a lively beginning. Architectural rendering by Gehry Partners, LLP and KX-L. Photo courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art.
AFTER: The South Lobby will offer visitors a light-filled space with high ceilings for installations of contemporary art, including large-scale sculpture. What was once a dead end will now become a lively beginning. Architectural rendering by Gehry Partners, LLP and KX-L. Photo courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art.

The master plan itself is part of a larger fundraising effort by the museum to improve education and programming, improve access and community outreach, and further engage audiences through the implementation of innovative new technologies. The largest cultural fundraising campaign in Philadelphia history, the ‘It Starts Here’ initiative has raised more than $326 million of its $525 million goal.

AFTER: The renewal of the Vaulted Walkway is critical to the construction of future Level C galleries beneath the Rocky steps—creating more places to display our collection and many more ways to experience it. Architectural rendering by Gehry Partners, LLP and KX-L. Photo courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art.
AFTER: The renewal of the Vaulted Walkway is critical to the construction of future Level C galleries beneath the Rocky steps—creating more places to display our collection and many more ways to experience it. Architectural rendering by Gehry Partners, LLP and KX-L. Photo courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art.
AFTER: Just like in ancient times, forums were places for the public to gather. The Museum is no longer just a cultural resource, it’s a communal space. The Forum opens the heart of the building and provides a much-needed hub for community activity. Architectural rendering by Gehry Partners, LLP and KX-L. Photo courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art.
AFTER: Just like in ancient times, forums were places for the public to gather. The Museum is no longer just a cultural resource, it’s a communal space. The Forum opens the heart of the building and provides a much-needed hub for community activity. Architectural rendering by Gehry Partners, LLP and KX-L. Photo courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art.

The Core Project is expected to take approximately three years for completion, with new spaces to open in phases from now until Fall 2020. The museum will remain open and fully operational through the entirety of the construction process.

Check out the gallery below to see all the before/after images.

News via Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Gehry Unveils Designs to Extend the Philadelphia Art Museum Downwards

The Philadelphia Museum of Art has revealed Frank Gehry's designs for a 169,000 square foot expansion that will see the museum dig down to create a new set of galleries underneath its existing footprint.

View the complete gallery

Cite: Patrick Lynch. "Philadelphia Museum of Art Breaks Ground on Frank Gehry's $196 Million Renovation Scheme" 30 Mar 2017. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/868258/philadelphia-museum-of-art-breaks-ground-on-frank-gehrys-196-dollars-million-renovation-scheme/> ISSN 0719-8884
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AFTER: The Forum, looking west and up to Lenfest Hall. The Forum extends from Level A to Level C and will be one of the most highly trafficked and recognizable areas created during the Core Project. This stunning space will serve as a venue for performances and events, as well as a welcoming spot for visitors to socialize or orient themselves. Architectural rendering by Gehry Partners, LLP and KX-L. Photo courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art.

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