Brunswick, Maine


The wisest architects are often ones who do not hang on too long to their first scheme. When they find obstacles in their path, they view annoying impediments merely as spurs for further creative action. Machado and Silvetti’s expansion of the Bowdoin College Museum of Art (formerly known as the Walker Art Building) offers an excellent case in point.

The graceful Renaissance Revival museum at Bowdoin College has long occupied a prime position on the leafy quad of a campus for 1750 students in Brunswick, Maine. Designed by Charles McKim, of McKim, Mead & White, in 1894, the elegantly symmetrical composition recalls Brunelleschi’s Pazzi Chapel (1430–61) in Florence while paying a bit of homage to Annibale Lippi’s Villa Medici (circa 1540) and Vignola’s Villa Giulia (1553) in Rome, as well. Indeed, the small brick-and-limestone palazzo prefigured the grander, marble Morgan Library McKim designed in 1906 in New York City. McKim’s architecture, so contained, so perfect, declares quite forthrightly the near impossibility of adding onto it. Yet the museum’s holdings of some 15,000 objects, including ancient art of the Mediterranean world, European old master drawings, and American paintings, necessitated expansion. In addition, the school needed teaching spaces and had to update its methods of climate control and security, as well as meet new standards for accessibility and construction safety.

To perform these tasks, Bowdoin turned to Machado and Silvetti Associates, a Boston-based firm. By all accounts, the choice made sense: The firm was in the midst of restoring and expanding the Getty Villa in Malibu [record, May 2006, page 106], where it integrated both Modernist and traditional elements without sacrificing the identity of each. (It should be noted, however, that the budget was vastly different— $275 million for the Getty Villa compared to Bowdoin’s $20.8 million.) Other architects considered for the Bowdoin project alternated between Modernists and traditionally minded—Polshek Partnership, Bruner/Cott & Associates, Robert A.M. Stern Architects, Hammond Beeby Rupert Ainge, and Schwartz/Silver Architects (which had helped in the initial feasibility studies). Even Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects had previously consulted with the museum. During the discussions with the various teams, Katy Kline, the director of the museum, remarks, “Jorge Silvetti did such an extraordinary job analyzing the problems” that Bowdoin decided to go with his firm, jettisoning a second round of presentations.

But obstacles lay ahead. Originally Machado and Silvetti proposed a scheme that called for accessibility ramps feeding from the lawn into the museum through the lower level. While the architects had kept McKim’s front entrance, their scheme called for removing the grand staircase leading up to it. Among those who objected was the Maine Historic Preservation Commission’s director Earle Shettleworth. As he flatly declares, “This is Maine’s finest example of Renaissance Revival architecture, hands down, The grand staircase is a major character-defining feature.” Many in the college agreed, especially since commencement ceremonies take place on those steps. Although the trustees had approved the first scheme, Silvetti faced a battle.


Machado and Silvetti Associates
560 Harrison Ave. Suite 301 
Boston, MA 02118 
P. 617-426-7070
F. 617-426-3604

Jorge Silvetti

Consulting Principal: 
Rodolfo Machado

Project Director and Architect of Record
Conrad Ello, AIA

Project Architect: 
Edwin Goodell, AIA

Senior Designers: 
Seiee Kim, Mimi Love

Construction Administration Support
David Dahlbom

Project Team
Paul Schlapobersky, Kelly Smith, Miks Karklins, Balasz Bognar, Chris Grimley, Natalie Sys, Andrew Hamblin 


Structural Engineer:
Richmond So Engineers, Inc
85 Main Street 
Watertown, MA 02472 
tel: 617-926-9300
fax: 617-926-9301 
Richmond So, P.E.
Jennifer McClain, P.E.
Kris Francois, P.E.

MEP/FP Engineers:
Altieri Sebor Wieber LLC
31 Knight Street 
Norwalk, CT 06851 
tel: 203-866-5538
fax: 203-866-5243
Andrew Sebor, P.E.
Vladimir Goldin
Melvin Patrick
Ed Klesh

Waterproofing/Building Envelope Engineers:
Simpson Gumpertz & Heger Inc.
41 Seyon Street 
Building 1, Suite 500
Waltham, MA 02453 
tel: 781-907-9000
fax: 781-907-9009
Kevin Cash
Brent Gabby

Civil Engineer:
P.O. Box 86A 
160 Longwoods Road 
Cumberland, ME 04021 
tel: 207-829-6994
fax: 207-829-2231
Anne Archino-Howe


Landscape Architect: 
Carol R. Johnson Associates
115 Broad Street 
Boston, MA 02110 
tel: 617-896-2550
fax: 617-896-2340

Lighting Design: 
LAM Partners
84 Sherman Street 
Cambridge, MA 02140 
tel: 617-354-4502
fax: 617-497-5038
Jennifer Pieszak, IALD
Paul Zaferiou, IALD, RA

Acoustical Consultants:  
33 Moulton Street 
Cambridge, MA 02138 
(617) 499-8000
Fax (617) 499-8074
Doug Sturz

Collective Wisdom
75 Bay State Road 
Weston, MA  02193 
tel: 781-647-7732
fax: 781-647-5297
Richard White

Elevator Consultant: 
Van Deusen & Associates 
198 Tremont Street 
Suite 443 
Boston, MA 02116 
tel: 888-503-3222
fax: 617-249-0790
Eric Tragash

Security Consultant:
Steve Keller & Associates, Inc.
555 Granada Boulevard 
Ormond Beach, FL 32174

Harriman Associates
One Auburn Business Park
Auburn, ME 04210

General contractor:
Consigli Construction
197 Main Street 
Milford, MA 01757 
tel: 508-473-2580
fax: 508-473-3588
Anthony Consigli - President
Michael Walker – Project Manager
David Onos – Project Superintendent 
Nick Collins – Project Engineer
Jeremy Whitehouse


Facundo de Zuviria
Republica Arabe-Siria 3246
1 Piso, Buenos Aires  1425

Dan Gair
Blind Dog Photo, Inc.
72 Route 236
Kittery, Maine 03904 
T/F 207-748-1232

All rendering done by MSA project team

Software Used: 
AutoCAD, 3dStudio, FormZ




Structural Steel:
American Steel Fabricators
328 Sawmill Road
P.O. Box 185 
Greenfield, NH 03047 

Dragon Products Company
38 Preble Street 
P.O. Box 1521 
Portland, ME 04104

Exterior Cladding
Sterling Grey Thermal Face Granite:
JC Stone Inc. *
545 Rockland Road 
Jefferson, ME 04348

Indiana Limestone:
Granite Importers *
P.O. Box 712 
Barre, VT 05641

Flemish Bond-‘Barrington Red’, ‘Dark Belgian’ & ‘Common Bond’
Morin Brick Company *
P.O. Box 1510 
Auburn, ME 04211

Exterior Naval Bronze Roof & Wall Panels: 
A.Zahner Company *
Architectural Metal
1400 East Ninth Street 
Kansas City, MO 64106

Exterior Invarimatte Stainless Steel Wall Panels: 
A.Zahner Company *
Architectural Metal
1400 East Ninth Street 
Kansas City, MO 64106

Structural Glass Curtainwall:
Innovative Structural Glass *
44299 Buckingham Trail 
Three Rivers, CA 93271

West Addition Roof Membrane:
Firestone EPDM

Entry Pavilion Roof Membrane:
(beneath bronze) 
Sarnafil PVC

Bronze Roof Panels:
(see under exterior cladding)

Windows, Doors and Glazing:
Fixed Aluminum Windows:
Kawneer Company, Inc.
600 Kawneer Drive 
Springdale, AR 72764

Structural Glass Curtainwalls:
Innovative Structural Glass *
44299 Buckingham Trail 
Three Rivers, CA 93271
(PPG ‘Solarban 60 Starphire’ low iron 1-1/4” insulated glass)

Gallery Skylights:  
Super Sky Products, Inc.
10301 N. Enterprise Drive 
Mequon, Wisconsin 53092 
(Skylight Insulated Glazing by Oldcastle Glass)

Bronze Entry Door at Loggia: 
Dawson Doors *
825 Allen Street 
P.O. Box 0278 
Jamestown, NY 14701 
(Note: Custom bronze grille by Accidental Anomalies (see below)

Custom Wood Doors
Selmore Manufacturing, Inc. *
57 Whipple Street 
P.O. Box 971 
Lewiston, ME 04240

Fire-Control Doors
Total Door
40 W. Howard
Pontiac, MI 48342

Loading Dock Rolling Door:
The Cookson Company
2417 S. 50th Avenue 
Phoenix, AZ 85043

Glass Door Hardware
Blumcraft of Pittsburgh
460 Melwood Avenue 
Pittsburgh, PA



Interior finishes:
Acoustical ceilings (admin offices):

Suspension grid (admin offices):

White Oak Cabinetwork and custom woodwork:
Selmore Manufacturing, Inc. *
57 Whipple Street 
P.O. Box 971 
Lewiston, ME 04240

Custom Steel Fabrication (Folded Plate Entry Stair, handrails):
Accidental Anomalies Inc.*
14 Strawberry Avenue 
Turner, ME 04282

Paints and stains: 
Sherwin Williams

White Oak Paneling:   
Selmore Manufacturing, Inc. *
57 Whipple Street 
P.O. Box 971 
Lewiston, ME 04240 
(White Oak)

Floor and wall tile (bathrooms):
Akasa Glace Grey

Hardwood White Oak Floors:
Granite Floors:
JC Stone Inc. *
545 Rockland Road 
Jefferson, ME 04348

Limestone Bases and Baseboards (Assyrian Gallery):
Granite Importers *
P.O. Box 712 
Barre, VT 05641


Interior ambient lighting:
Edison Price
Cooper Lighting

Edison Price 

Kim Lighting



Pine State Elevators

Glass Elevator Cab:
Elevator Design Interiors (EDI)


Water Fountains:

Toilets, Urinals and Lavatories: