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Groundbreaking: The Buffalo AKG Art Museum

A groundbreaking for the AK360 Campus Development and Expansion Project was held earlier today. This is a significant milestone in the quest to transition the Albright-Knox Gallery into more of a campus setting, while creating a striking new building that will act as a gathering place for visitors, while increasing the amount of gallery space to showcase sensational works of art. The building was designed by the AK’s architectural partner, Shohei Shigematsu (OMA).

AK360 Campus Development and Expansion Project architectural overview

In attendance at the groundbreaking was Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, County Executive Mark Poloncarz, Mayor Byron Brown, and Councilmember Joel Feroleto.

The new, expanded museum campus will comprise three architecturally significant buildings connected by a scenic bridge.

In another surprising twist, it was announced that philanthropist Jeffrey Gundlach will be committing an additional $10 million to the project, bringing his overall financial gift to a whopping $62.5 million. Mr. Gundlach designed his initial contributions to leverage a matching structure that more than doubled his original investment. With these commitments in hand, the Albright-Knox Board of Directors announced, earlier this month, that the construction project would get underway. 

View from Elmwood Avenue looking northeast.

Moving forward, the AK campus will consist of three respective buildings, interconnected by a scenic bridge. Each of the structures, including the bridge, will be duly named in honor of individuals that have been driving expansion efforts over the years.

  • The oldest building, E. B. Green’s neoclassical masterpiece, will become the Robert and Elisabeth Wilmers Building. Mr. Wilmers was the longtime Chairman and CEO of M&T Bank, and was the Chair of the AK360 Capital Campaign
  • Gordon Bunshaft’s The 1962 Building will be named in honor of Seymour H. Knox, Jr., and the Knox family. Mr. Knox’s was Board President between 1939–1976 and drove the modern and contemporary art vision for the gallery. The Knox Family continues to be an important faction of the gallery to this day.
The John J. Albright Bridge.
  • In recognition of John J. Albright’s legacy as a founder of the museum, the scenic bridge connecting the new building to the existing buildings will be named the John J. Albright Bridge. It will be a physical link between the museum’s past and future that will provide panoramic views of Hoyt Lake and Frederick Law Olmsted’s Delaware Park.
  • The new building on the north side of the campus will be named in honor of philanthropist Jeffrey Gundlach.

With so much excitement surrounding the future of the AK, it is fitting that, upon reopening in 2022, it will be under a new name – the Buffalo AKG Art Museum.

View of the Robert and Elisabeth Wilmers Building from Elmwood Avenue.

As part of the unveiling, a new brand identity will be coordinated by the following studios: Wkshps, led by partners Chris Wu and Prem Krishnamurthy; and Once-Future Office, led by principals Nikki Chung and Dungjai Pungauthaikan. Architectural partners at OMA, Wkshps, and Once-Future Office will coordinate new signage and wayfinding systems. The new signage features a custom typeface drawn by Christian Schwartz at Commercial Type and a dynamic, punctuation-based system that will reflect the grand history of the museum, as well as its bold new future. 

The Robert and Elisabeth Wilmers Building (left) and the Knox Building (right) in winter.

To learn more about AK360’s Campus Expansion Project, visit www.albrightknox.org.

Lead image: The Gundlach Building and the John J. Albright Bridge viewed from the stairs of the Robert and Elisabeth Wilmers Building.

Common sky, 2019, by Olafur Eliasson and Sebastian Behmann of Studio Other Spaces. © Studio Other Spaces
View of a gallery space in the north building

Written by queenseyes

queenseyes

Newell Nussbaumer is 'queenseyes' - Eyes of the Queen City and Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside, Buffalo Porchfest, and Paint vs. Paint. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market on Elmwood. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Throws The Witches Ball at Statler City, the Hertel Alley Street Art Festival, and The Flutterby Festival.

Contact Newell Nussbaumer | Newell@BuffaloRising.com

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