OMA has won an architecture competition for the $80 million expansion of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York. The project will be the firm’s first art museum project in the United States.
The expansion, led by OMA partner Shohei Shigematsu, will mark the third architectural chapter for the gallery, one of the oldest public art museums in the United States. The marble, Beaux-arts building, designed by acclaimed local architect Edward Brodhead Green and completed in 1905, sits across from Frederick Law Olmsted’s Delaware Park. In 1962, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), led by Gordon Bunshaft (best known for the Lever House in New York City) constructed a modern addition.
Since SOM’s expansion more than five decades ago, the gallery’s collection has quadrupled in size to more than 8,000 modern and contemporary works, only about 300 of which can be shown simultaneously.
In 2014, the museum’s board opted to expand and upgrade its facilities. According to the website Buffalo Business First, the museum’s board began with a pool of nearly 50 design firms last fall, which it narrowed to a five-firm shortlist in January that included OMA, wHY Architecture, Snøhetta, BIG, and Allied Works Architecture.
“We were looking for genuine sensitivity to our historic buildings and Olmsted campus,” said museum board president Tom Hyde.
OMA fit that bill, having recently completed the Pierre Lassonde Pavilion at the Musée National des Beaux-Arts in Québec, which is also located in an urban park.
The project—which the museum is calling “AK360”—will include the addition of special exhibition areas, doubling the artwork on display, as well as educational and social spaces.
The museum hopes the revamped facility will serve as a cultural anchor for the region. Said museum director, Janne Sirén, “Through our architectural vision, we will aspire to set new standards for how a 21st century art museum can activate the transformative power of art and become a place of community engagement—a town green for all.”
Said OMA principal Shohei Shigematsu: “We are thrilled to be part of this project, which will be important for many reasons including the convergence of historically significant architecture in Buffalo, fostering a more intimate dialogue with the Olmsted landscape setting, answering the need for new exhibition space to display the Albright-Knox’s renowned collection, and position the museum to take a leading role in the city’s broader resurgence.”
According to the museum, OMA will embark on the design process in September and will spend the next year developing the design in tandem with the museum and the community.