Barnes building by TWBT Architects gets approval
It’s been a long, hard road for the Barnes Foundation which faced tonnes of opposition and a lawsuit for its decision to move its prized impressionist art collection, one of the world’s largest, from a tranquil and secluded setting in suburban Pennsylvania to a bustling and highly visible spot in downtown Philadelphia. But the battle appears to be over. This week the Philadelphia Art Commission unanimously approved the design for the Barnes new building, paving the way for construction to begin as early as November.
The building's design by Tod Williams Bille Tsien Architects, endeavours to recreate the experience of the Barnes’ original building, its galleries and gardens, in a wholly new transparent structure with modern sensibilities, new functions and vastly improved lighting. The two storey, 93,000 sq ft building houses the Barnes collection in a 12,000 sq ft space that replicates the scale, proportion and sequencing of the original galleries. Fronting the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, it is given primacy in the scheme. These galleries are joined by an "L" shaped building that houses the Foundation’s educational mission, a special exhibitions gallery for large scale work and a cafe and gift store. The two spaces are linked by a glassed-in courtyard that terminates in the east in a gigantic, luminous canopy. A series of outdoor spaces designed to enhance the visitors’ experience of the site and the approach to building complete the design.
To be finished with a textured grey-and-gold Ramon limestone exterior, the building is slated for completion in late 2011.