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Colby College Museum of Art, Waterville, Maine, United States

Friday 05 Jul 2013

Gleaming addition to under-appreciated gem

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Colby College Museum of Art opens new pavilion for American art in Waterville 

The Colby College Museum of Art in Waterville, Maine will open a new 26,000 sq ft addition on 13 July.  Designed by the Los Angeles-based Frederick Fisher and Partners Architects, the Alford-Lunder Family Pavilion, as the building is known, will house the recently donated Lunder Collection.  Valued at more than $100m, the collection is widely acknowledged as one of the most important holdings of American art ever assembled by private collectors making Colby among the nation’s premiere institutions of American Art.

For Fisher, the project marks a return to Colby’s campus, where he previously worked on the museum on two separate occasions -  the first time where he proposed a Federalist style building that would become a gateway to the campus and the second time, where he did a small wing - ‘a little Federal bump’ as Fisher calls it. 

This time the self-described ‘contextualist’ chose to ‘fit in’  by contrasting the mostly Georgian style architecture of Colby’s campus with a new three-storey glass pavilion which, like a porous vessel, will change in character seasonally and from day to night.  Through the generous use of transparency and courtyards the building will ‘leak out into the environment’, said Fisher so the art is not just contained but extended beyond the building’s walls.

Art works like the large format Sol LeWitt painting hung in the building’s glass enclosed staircase and Richard Serra’s sculpture 4-5-6, which sits in the 1,300 sq ft sculpture court, are ‘delectable appetizers’ that prime visitors for what they will see once inside the building thus creating anticipation and a desire to see more. 

“Until now,” said Colby President Williams D. Adams, “our museum may have been something of an under-appreciated gem though not to our students, faculty, alumni, and the citizens of Maine who have embraced it as one of their finest resources.  But now, as we celebrate the bicentennial of the College, we look forward as never before to welcoming visitors from around the country and the world who are going to discover that our museum has risen to the top of its field.”

Located on a 714-acre campus, the three-storey pavilion completes a circuit with the three existing wings of the museum, at once unifying them and contrasting with the architecture of Colby’s campus.  Built of aluminum and glass with accents of Peribonka granite, the pavilion provides  a new entrance to the museum, 10,000 sq ft of gallery space, teaching spaces, and spaces for art handling. The building is LEED Silver certified and cost $15m.    

Sharon McHugh
US Correspondent

Key Facts

Status Completed
Value 0(m€)
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Frederick Fisher and Partners Architects

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