The Frick Collection in New York has revealed designs by Annabelle Selldorf of Selldorf Architects for a $160-million renovation and expansion. The project will repurpose 60,000 square feet of the existing building, which was designed by Carrère and Hastings, and add 27,000 square feet of new construction to the Upper East Side institution. Beyer Blinder Belle is the executive architect.
A previous scheme to renovate the art museum drew ire from preservationists and neighbors; Davis Brody Bond’s 2014 design, which called for a gated garden designed by British landscape architect Russell Page to be replaced by a six-story addition, was scrapped in 2015 after facing strong criticism. A coalition called “Unite to Save the Frick,” whose sympathizers included Robert A.M. Stern, Maya Lin, and three former commissioners of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, vehemently opposed the plan, garnering thousands of signatures on a petition asking the museum’s board to halt the renovation. The Frick went back to the drawing board, selecting Selldorf Architects in October 2016.
Selldorf’s understated design makes minimal changes to the 1914 building’s exterior and retains the 70th Street garden, which will be restored by preservationist and garden designer Lynden B. Miller. The Frick’s main 1930s entrance on 70th Street will remain the same, but the reception hall will be reconfigured (its circular stair down to lower levels will be removed and replaced, to improve circulation). Raising the height of the lobby only five feet, the architects will create a new level for a shop, the museum’s first café, and a sitting area with views of the garden.
A new 220-seat auditorium will be built below grade, in the existing basement spaces beneath the garden, and a dedicated education center, accessible through the library entrance on 71st street, will better serve school groups. Also, the Frick family’s private living quarters on the second floor will be open to visitors for the first time as a gallery.
All additions will be set back from the street, and none will exceed the height of the seven-story library, designed by John Russell Pope. Using materials such as Indiana Limestone on a new facade, Selldorf Architects will honor the museum’s original aesthetic.
Construction on the project, which will require approval from the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission, is slated to begin in 2020.