The New Museum today announced that it has selected OMA to design its expansion. This will be the first public building in New York City designed by Rotterdam-based Rem Koolhaas and Shohei Shigematsu, director of the firm’s New York office.
Since plans for an expansion were revealed last May, speculation within the New York architecture scene mounted about who would design it. The short list included OMA, SO-IL, Selldorf Architects, wHY, and SANAA, the Tokyo-based firm that designed the museum’s first freestanding building in 2007. That building, with its seemingly precariously stacked galleries, became an instant icon and was transformative for its Lower East Side neighborhood, which has since welcomed a number of prestigious galleries and hotspots, including Foster + Partners’ Sperone Westwater Gallery, and, most recently, the towering Public Hotel by Herzog & de Meuron.
“SANAA’s building is one of the most iconic vertical museums in the world,” says Shigematsu. “To make a building to enhance it is a unique challenge.” Shigematsu knows all too well that challenge. He is currently designing an expansion of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, a combination of a Neoclassical pile designed by Edward B. Green and modern structure by Gordon Bunshaft within a Frederick Law Olmsted-designed park.
But this is New York City, the “spiritual center” of OMA’s foundation, according to Shigematsu, whose last design for a museum in New York City was the unrealized Whitney Museum Extension over 15 years ago. OMA’s design for the New Museum will be distinct, but highly connected to the existing SANAA building. The expansion will double the museum’s footprint on the Bowery, providing an additional 50,000 square feet for new galleries, improved public circulation, and flexible space for the institution’s continued exploration of new platforms and programs. The project is scheduled to break ground in 2019.