Safdie Architects has designed an expansion of its Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas, which the firm completed in 2011. The plan, unveiled today, will nearly double the size of the museum, and include several new public outdoor areas and buildings, and will reimagine the art facility as a community center.
“It has been a joy to see Crystal Bridges’ enthusiastic reception by the public,” said Moshe Safdie, founder of Safdie Architects, in a statement. “We are honored to be back and working with the museum to realize a series of new facilities which will enrich the diversity of the museum experience.”
Built over a decade ago, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is situated in the middle of a 120-acre forested site that is also home to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Bachman-Wilson House and James Turrell's Skyspace. The existing complex encompasses several laminated timber, arch roofed structures with glass walls overlooking two ponds.
Image courtesy Safdie Architects
The museum, with its renowned art collection, will be expanded to include two new galleries, a dedicated community floor, a new bridge, café and circular event plaza outside. Around 100,000 square feet will be added to the current 200,000-square-foot facilities, as well as more courtyards, promenades and gardens.
“It’s wonderful to see how our community, our region, and travelers to Bentonville from across the nation and around the world have embraced Crystal Bridges, and enjoyed the experience of being surrounded by art, nestled in nature, and immersed in Moshe Safdie’s architecture,” said Alice Walton, Crystal Bridges founder and board chairperson, in a statement.
“With the number of visitors we welcome annually [around 500,000 visitors a year before the pandemic] it’s timely to enlarge our building and make sure more people can access these offerings,” she added. “Having Safdie Architects expand on its original Crystal Bridges design with this new addition will create a unified experience for enjoying art, nature, and architecture.”
The structures will be built with similar materials – local fieldstone, timber and concrete – as the existing museum buildings. The expansion will add a new light-filled bridge, two new galleries for displaying art, educational facilities, and indoor/outdoor community spaces.
Construction is expected to start early next year with the goal of completion in 2024, and a reconfigured courtyard and main lobby are expected to be finished next month.
Video courtesy Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art