"It is rare to have such contrasting aesthetics complement each other in such a hauntingly beautiful way – this project is just brilliant."
- AIA Michigan Award Committee
Located in a downtown environment, the Art Museum began an ambitious plan for expansion that was a necessary step towards enabling the exhibition of an expanded world of art. The 5,000 sq. ft. existing building not only limited the exhibition and education spaces, but also did not allow for proper handling of fine art.
The desire to preserve the existing 1904 Georgian house and its Italian garden, both designed by the original architect, led the team of architects to develop a design preserving the historic building while adding separate exhibition and education wings. The designers found a way to split the program into separate wings that could respond to the symmetry of the old house and embrace the garden while keeping the front door in the middle and the old house at the top of the hierarchy of the composition.
The design concept called for the use of exposed structure and simple interior and exterior finishes. The perimeter skylighting of the gallery, copper cladding, the wood, lattice-screen garden enclosure, and glazed connectors reset the house as the heart of a promising arts institution. The project incorporates a palette of materials and forms that reinforce the original museum as the central focus. The fritted glass and the pre-patinaed copper cladding provide dramatic interface with the exterior materials and detailing found on the Georgian style house.
The completed project welcomes visitors to a prominent structure that flows from its historic home to its modern, versatile wings. With the proper spaces and systems, which add another 18,744 sq. ft., the museum now offers the ability to receive, store and display major art exhibits.