Buffalo is abuzz with news of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery’s proposed expansion plans. It’s a brave new vision for the AK(G). The AK360 Campus Development Project is to marry the world renowned gallery with a world renowned Olmsted park, which has always been disconnected from the campus. The AK’s partner architect, OMA, has taken a giant leap into the future with this one, by seamlessly weaving the city’s past into the project.
The central dilemma we have aspired to resolve is this: how can we satisfy the eleven Architectural Program Desirables … without occupying more parkland—in other words, without increasing our current footprint—and without visually blocking the façades of Green’s 1905 Building or Bunshaft’s iconic 1962 Auditorium?
AK360: Architectural Program Desirables
- Refurbish/renovate existing buildings
- New, flexible exhibition space with state-of-the-art lighting, security, and moveable walls
- Art loading dock
- Inspiring educational spaces/classrooms
- Improved parking configuration (potentially underground)
- Inspiring and welcoming entry hall
- Space for galas and other events that seats 260 to 360 people and is serviced by a catering kitchen
- Improved landscaping and pedestrian access and circulation throughout the entire museum campus
- Consolidate staff offices
- Incorporate restaurant/café with ability for off- hours access
- Gift shop with street-level access
The biggest hurdle that needed to be jumped was how to add additional thousands of square feet of gallery space to the campus, without obscuring sightlines onto the existing buildings. The fix?
OMA has conceived an ingenious architectural solution of introducing two new interconnected volumes: one that hovers above the treetops and overlooks Delaware Park (New Construction 1) and another placed within the park immediately to the west of the 1905 Building (New Construction 2).
The AK360 Campus Development Project committee was presented with the following tasks, which they persevered to solve:
- New Construction 1: Floating Volume
- New Construction 2: Park Gallery
- Significant Renovations and Adaptive Reuse of the Historic 1905 and 1962 Buildings
- Integrated Landscape and Site Work
- Underground Parking
In the end, the crucial component was being able to connect all aspects of the campus, as they relate to the bounding parkscape.
Views from the gallery would be unobstructed onto the parkscape, while views onto the existing buildings would be just as impressive.
The five-part architectural program, covering both hard and soft costs, is projected at $125 million, including contingencies. The museum still needs to raise $30 million to meet the total target of $155 million ($125 million for the building project and $30 million for the endowment).
So what comes next? During the Schematic Design phase, Shohei Shigematsu and the OMA team will work on the actual design—“the look”—of the Floating Volume and the Park Gallery. “Currently we have an outline, and the Schematic Design phase will bring color and life to that outline. Different elements of the exterior and interior design will begin to obtain a formal (shape, form, and scale) and physical (material) identity. The Schematic Design phase should be complete the end of November.”
The process moving forward looks something like this: