New York-based firm Marvel revealed schematic designs for The Bronx Museum's new multi-story entrance and lobby, as part of the museum's revamp for its 50th anniversary. With a budget of USD $26 million and slated for completion in 2025, the renovation will relocate the access on the Grand Concourse Street, one of the most iconic The Bronx boulevards, and focus on the cohesion of the multiple sections for a fully accessible route through all of the galleries. Coinciding with this announcement, the Museum reinvented its brand identity and website for the first time in over two decades to reflect its ethos as a vital space at the intersection of art and social justice in New York City.
The Bronx Museum was founded in 1971 by the people of The Bronx during difficult times for the borough. Since then, it has carved an identity as a museum dedicated to social justice. In its first decade, The Museum was housed on Grand Concourse and 161st Street, a public rotunda of The Bronx County Courthouse, and in 1982, it moved into a former synagogue purchased and donated by the City of New York. Twenty years later, the Museum began construction on 1,500 square meters led by the Miami-based firm Arquitectonica, winning the "Excellence in Design" prize by The Art Commission of the city in 2003.
Today, the Bronx Museum is an internationally-recognized cultural destination with a permanent collection of 2,000+ works showcasing pieces by artists of African, Asian, and Latin American ancestry, as well as artists for whom the Bronx has been critical to their development.
The design principles are rooted in the Grand Concourse's history and the building's evolution throughout the past four decades. The relocation of the main entrance towards the highly-visible intersection of Grand Concourse and 165th Street will open up the Museum's reach and expand the experience to the sidewalk, offering multiple visibility opportunities for art and public programming from the street. The project aims to bring the street into the gallery and bring the gallery back to the street, blending the boundary between the two, keeping in line with the active street life of the neighborhood.
As soon as one enters the Museum at the intersection of the roof planes, the visitor is immersed in the museum experience, stepping into a welcoming space that aspires to become the Bronx's new living room. The building is glazed on all sides, interlaced with glass fiber reinforced concrete (GFRC) textured walls that serve as interior exhibition surfaces and frame the views into the deeper gallery spaces. The expansive triple-height project space at the corner offers a clear opportunity that allows art to be visible to pedestrians and invites newcomers inside.
Stemming from the articulation of the 2006 North Wing addition, Marvel utilizes folded copper bronze panel roofs that reflect the warm tones of the surrounding brick and tie to the art deco influence of the Concourse district. Furthermore, the design pays respect to the existing synagogue building from 1962 by stripping down the dark metal panels that conceal the brick walls of the original design.
Marvel’s design for the renovation and expansion of The Bronx Museum channels the Bronx’s can-do, hip-hop creativity and resourcefulness. More than a museum, The Bronx Museum breaks down barriers, is a source of culture, and a gathering space for the community and visitors from around the globe - Jonathan Marvel, Founding Principal at Marvel
Advocating for collective actions mixed with contemporary design, Marvel is also working on the largest LGBT-welcoming elder housing development in the USA. Dubbed Stonewall House as a nod to the famous Stonewall Inn, the building will feature 23,000 square meters of mixed-use in Downtown Brooklyn.