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The Modern Wing, Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, United States

Friday 13 Feb 2009

Art in the park

Charles G. Young 
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Piano completes at Chicago Art Institute 

Renzo Piano has completed a new Modern Wing at the Art Institute of Chicago. The $300 million extension is the centrepiece of an ambitious building project that will reorganize the entrire museum by 2010, increasing the total gallery space by 35% and doubling the education space. With its completion, the Institute is the second largest museum in the United States, behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

From a planning perspective, The Modern Wing clarifies the Institute’s campus, enhancing visitor orientation and experiences, and provides a seamless connection to to its main building and to Chicago’s Millenium Park, to which it is linked via a 600 ft long pedestrian bridge, the Nichols Bridgeway, also by Piano.

Piano’s etherial glass and limestone pavilion is capped by a 216 ft wide luminous sunshading device, dubbed “the flying carpet”, that floats like an umbrella over the upper floor galleries. The 264,000 sq ft building features an expanded education center and galleries; an outdoor sculpture terrace; a fine dining restaurant; and a double height entrance and “main street” known as Griffin Court. New public spaces inlcude a museum shop and garden at street level. The second and third floors of Modern Wing and the restaurant offer dramatic views of the Chicago skyline and Millenium Park.

The project officially opens on 16 May 2009.

Sharon McHugh
US Correspondent

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Renzo Piano Building Workshop

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