Smithsonian’s Cooper Hewitt unveils expansion plan
The Cooper Hewitt, America’s National Design Museum, has unveiled design plans for an enlarged and enhanced facility to house its vast collection. The $64 million project, which is slated to begin construction in January 2009, is being led by Gluckman Mayner Architects with Beyer Blinder Belle Architects on board as Executive Architect.
The ambitious project, which involves the restoration of the landmark Carnegie Mansion and the renovation of two adjacent townhouses, will almost double Cooper-Hewitt’s exhibition space. Major components of the project include a new 7,000 sq ft gallery, restored galleries, a new National Design Library and expanded collection storage. When completed, the entire 4,000 sq ft of first floor galleries will be allocated to the display of the Museum’ s permanent collection, an increase of 400 percent.
Beyer Blinder Belle will lead the Mansion’s restoration work, which includes the addition of a new contemporary east stair that connects all three levels of galleries. The most visible architectural changes in the mansion will be this central stair and the new third-floor galleries. The stair design will be sympathetic to the character of the building, yet unify the disparate floors of the museum and facilitate public circulation. The new third-floor gallery will be transformed into a versatile and neutral vessel into which the museum can exhibit a wide range of temporary shows.