Launch Slideshow

Floor Plan of Existing Structure

Currier Museum of Art

Currier Museum of Art

  • Floor Plan of Existing Structure

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    Floor Plan of Existing Structure

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    Courtesy Ann Beha Architects

    Floor Plan of Existing Structure

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    Courtesy Ann Beha Architects

  • Equipped for lectures, film screenings, and musical performances, the lower-level auditorium features a baffled ceiling, cherry paneling, and large clerestories — the latter made possible by the ground plane that slopes away from the building.

    http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmp83C%2Etmp_tcm20-187949.jpg

    Equipped for lectures, film screenings, and musical performances, the lower-level auditorium features a baffled ceiling, cherry paneling, and large clerestories — the latter made possible by the ground plane that slopes away from the building.

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    Jonathan Hillyer

    Equipped for lectures, film screenings, and musical performances, the lower-level auditorium features a baffled ceiling, cherry paneling, and large clerestories — the latter made possible by the ground plane that slopes away from the building.

  • An open, skylit stair descends from the winter garden to lower-level offices, two new classrooms, and a 180-seat auditorium.

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    An open, skylit stair descends from the winter garden to lower-level offices, two new classrooms, and a 180-seat auditorium.

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    Jonathan Hillyer

    An open, skylit stair descends from the winter garden to lower-level offices, two new classrooms, and a 180-seat auditorium.

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    Courtesy Ann Beha Architects

  • The new north addition is a glass-enclosed lobby space that serves as the museum's main entrance. Charlotte, N.C.based artist Tom Schulz was commissioned to create a custom concrete finish for the plaza, which involved staining large square sections and scoring the surface.

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    The new north addition is a glass-enclosed lobby space that serves as the museum's main entrance. Charlotte, N.C.based artist Tom Schulz was commissioned to create a custom concrete finish for the plaza, which involved staining large square sections and scoring the surface.

    600

    Jonathan Hillyer

    The new north addition is a glass-enclosed lobby space that serves as the museum's main entrance. Charlotte, N.C.–based artist Tom Schulz was commissioned to create a custom concrete finish for the plaza, which involved staining large square sections and scoring the surface.

  • The new glass-front lobby has expanded ticketing and waiting areas, as well as a museum store. Nestled between two 1982 Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer–designed pavilions, the new north addition retains the pavilions' brick façades and columns so that visitors are aware of the boundary between new and older spaces.

    http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmp840%2Etmp_tcm20-187977.jpg

    The new glass-front lobby has expanded ticketing and waiting areas, as well as a museum store. Nestled between two 1982 Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer–designed pavilions, the new north addition retains the pavilions' brick façades and columns so that visitors are aware of the boundary between new and older spaces.

    600

    The new glass-front lobby has expanded ticketing and waiting areas, as well as a museum store. Nestled between two 1982 Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer–designed pavilions, the new north addition retains the pavilions' brick façades and columns so that visitors are aware of the boundary between new and older spaces.

  • The south façade of the new addition is clad with a terra-cotta rainscreen and custom glass by Viracon. The finishes are designed to complement the materials in the original structure, while providing protection from harsh ultraviolet rays in three new galleries, a requirement for many traveling exhibitions.

    http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmp841%2Etmp_tcm20-187981.jpg

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    The south façade of the new addition is clad with a terra-cotta rainscreen and custom glass by Viracon. The finishes are designed to complement the materials in the original structure, while providing protection from harsh ultraviolet rays in three new galleries, a requirement for many traveling exhibitions.

    600

    Jonathan Hillyer

    The south façade of the new addition is clad with a terra-cotta rainscreen and custom glass by Viracon. The finishes are designed to complement the materials in the original structure, while providing protection from harsh ultraviolet rays in three new galleries, a requirement for many traveling exhibitions.

  • The center gallery in the south addition is one of three new exhibition spaces. Floor-to-ceiling glass panels separate it from the noise of the winter garden while still allowing in daylight.

    http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmp842%2Etmp_tcm20-187991.jpg

    The center gallery in the south addition is one of three new exhibition spaces. Floor-to-ceiling glass panels separate it from the noise of the winter garden while still allowing in daylight.

    600

    Jonathan Hillyer

    The center gallery in the south addition is one of three new exhibition spaces. Floor-to-ceiling glass panels separate it from the noise of the winter garden while still allowing in daylight.

  • http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmp843%2Etmp_tcm20-187995.jpg

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    Courtesy Ann Beha Architects

  • The museum's gallery spaces were designed to be minimal so as not to detract from the artwork, and feature neutral-colored walls, cove lighting, and wood floors. The façade treatment (alternating glazing and stone or terra-cotta) allows visitors to get glimpses of daylight as they walk between galleries.

    http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmp844%2Etmp_tcm20-188002.jpg

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    The museum's gallery spaces were designed to be minimal so as not to detract from the artwork, and feature neutral-colored walls, cove lighting, and wood floors. The façade treatment (alternating glazing and stone or terra-cotta) allows visitors to get glimpses of daylight as they walk between galleries.

    600

    Jonathan Hillyer

    The museum's gallery spaces were designed to be minimal so as not to detract from the artwork, and feature neutral-colored walls, cove lighting, and wood floors. The façade treatment (alternating glazing and stone or terra-cotta) allows visitors to get glimpses of daylight as they walk between galleries.

  • A canted skylight connects the roof of the original museum building to the lower roof of the south addition in the winter garden. Unlike the central skylight, these panels are clear glass, allowing sunlight to wash across the 1929 façade.

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    A canted skylight connects the roof of the original museum building to the lower roof of the south addition in the winter garden. Unlike the central skylight, these panels are clear glass, allowing sunlight to wash across the 1929 façade.

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    Bruce T. Martin

    A canted skylight connects the roof of the original museum building to the lower roof of the south addition in the winter garden. Unlike the central skylight, these panels are clear glass, allowing sunlight to wash across the 1929 façade.

  • The original 1929 façade is preserved in a winter garden linking the south addition to the existing structure. Used as an event space, a café, and a welcome daylit respite from hard New Hampshire winters, the space features a large central skylight that contains two layers of perforated stretch vinyl fabric from NewMat, which help to cut down on glare and dampen the reverberant acoustics.

    http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmp846%2Etmp_tcm20-188019.jpg

    The original 1929 façade is preserved in a winter garden linking the south addition to the existing structure. Used as an event space, a café, and a welcome daylit respite from hard New Hampshire winters, the space features a large central skylight that contains two layers of perforated stretch vinyl fabric from NewMat, which help to cut down on glare and dampen the reverberant acoustics.

    600

    Bruce T. Martin

    The original 1929 façade is preserved in a winter garden linking the south addition to the existing structure. Used as an event space, a café, and a welcome daylit respite from hard New Hampshire winters, the space features a large central skylight that contains two layers of perforated stretch vinyl fabric from NewMat, which help to cut down on glare and dampen the reverberant acoustics.

  • Opposite the historic façade in the winter garden are two large Sol LeWitt murals — designed just before his death in 2007 — that frame the view into the central gallery in the south addition.

    http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmp847%2Etmp_tcm20-188026.jpg

    Opposite the historic façade in the winter garden are two large Sol LeWitt murals — designed just before his death in 2007 — that frame the view into the central gallery in the south addition.

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    Bruce T. Martin

    Opposite the historic façade in the winter garden are two large Sol LeWitt murals — designed just before his death in 2007 — that frame the view into the central gallery in the south addition.

  • http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmp848%2Etmp_tcm20-188030.jpg

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    Courtesy Ann Beha Architects

Unlike many cultural institutions with aspirations to greatness, the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester, N.H., didn’t want to sacrifice the charm of being small when it decided to double its gallery space. “That came through in the focus groups,” says architect Pamela Hawkes, of Ann Beha Architects in Boston. “People in Manchester are not far away from the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, which is a world-class institution,” she explains. “But in many cases they would rather go to the Currier, because it’s a space where they can interact with art in a more intimate way.”

Taking that charge to heart, the design team studied the two-block site exhaustively, looking at many alternatives for the museum’s expansion. The museum and its architects settled on a 33,000-square-foot solution in two parts: one addition nestled against the southern edge of the original 1929 museum by Beaux-Arts architect Edward Tilton, and the other planted on the north side between two pavilions added in 1982 by Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates. The additions greatly extend the museum’s capabilities and transform the site into a tight, urban campus without inflating the institution to a gargantuan scale. The scope of the $14 million project also included renovating 40,000 square feet of existing space.

Visitors arriving by car enter a spacious landscaped plaza punctuated by Mark di Suvero’s signature steel sculpture, Origins. There they are greeted by the sweeping glass façade of the north addition, revealing a new lobby with ticketing, an expanded museum shop, and visitor services. On the south, replacing a modest formal garden and reflecting pool, three new galleries embrace a new winter garden. Taken together, the contemporary additions reinforce the Beaux-Arts symmetry of the original plan while extending an axis of public spaces centered on the original interior court.

Viewed from outside, the additions maintain a low profile, eschewing the hipped roofs and weighty formal references of the original neoclassical building and its postmodern additions. “We chose to take it to the next generation and do something that was clearly contemporary, but picked up on many of the details—whether it was the granite water table or the strong cornice line,” says Hawkes. Quoins on the historic limestone building, for instance, inspired the treatment of the honed terra-cotta rainscreen that encloses the south addition.

The greatest boons to the museum are the new galleries, designed to meet rigid standards for traveling exhibitions that prohibit ultraviolet light. Daylight is welcome, however, in the center gallery on the south façade, where floor-to-ceiling glass opens to views across the rooftops and steeples of Manchester. The new configuration of galleries allows patrons to make a continuous loop as they pass through exhibits, pausing between galleries to catch glimpses of the outdoors.

The architects also delivered more than they were asked by introducing the winter garden, a stately-yet-intimate setting for receptions, performances, and everyday use as a café. Sunlight streaming across the original limestone façade and elaborate mosaics creates a certain drama in the space, while suggesting the feeling of an outdoor courtyard. In the center of the room, filtered sunlight passes through acoustically dampened skylights, casting diffused light on the two colorful Sol LeWitt murals commissioned for the building.

Yet for all the experiential richness of the Currier additions, their overall cost was an economical $320 per square foot—a fact not overlooked by a volunteer who complimented Hawkes for making a building that was fitting for New Hampshire. “The Yankee mentality is that you don’t do a lot of glitz,” says Hawkes. “It needs to be solid. It needs to be functional. And every square foot of this building really works.”