The Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York has just revealed the design of its new $155 million expansion by OMA New York. The project, which OMA won in competition in June 2016, will sit opposite the museum’s original 1905 Beaux-Arts building, in what is currently a parking lot.
The signature feature of the new building is a translucent cascading facade-cum-roof, which acts as a wraparound promenade that encloses a flexible space for both art and events. “More and more, a museum needs to act as a civic center,” says OMA New York director Shohei Shigematsu. “Before, the gallery box defined the facade, but here, it is shaped by this space for more diversified activities.”
The new building will add 29,000 square feet of much-needed space for displaying special exhibitions and the museum’s world-renowned art collection, and will incorporate several visitor amenities. The remaining portion of the parking lot will be covered with landscape, and parking moved underground.
A previous scheme by OMA had new spaces hovering over the courtyard of the Gordon Bunshaft-designed 1962 addition. Opposition to that plan by preservationists led the museum to rethink building on the site, which is part of a Frederick Law Olmsted-designed park.
Though the new scheme still faces a multi-step approvals process, it is expected to move forward following approval by the museum board today. “This design is inviting and open, and is a much clearer statement of the new direction the museum is taking,” says Shigematsu.
So far, the museum has raised $125 million towards what it calls its AK360 Campus Development and Expansion project, which includes preservation and improvements to the existing campus.