Launch Slideshow

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The Burden of History

The Burden of History

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    Courtesy 2012 Barnes Foundation

    Albert Barnes began collecting art in 1912 and collaborated with Paul Philippe Cret to design a limestone Beaux-Arts structure to house his collection.

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    Noah Kalina

    Tod Williams and Billie Tsien in the outdoor patio of the new Barnes.

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    Noah Kalina

    The galleries in the new Barnes overlook a raised plinth that will be landscaped.

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    Noah Kalina

    The limestone exterior of the north side of the building, which houses all of the modern amenities.

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    Noah Kalina

    Evelyn Yaari of the Friends of the Barnes Foundation, a local group that filed two lawsuits challenging the judge's decision allowing the foundation to move to Center City.

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    Courtesy 2012 Barnes Foundation

    A gallery in the old Barnes (Cezanne's The Card Players is at center) illustrates Barnes's unique method of hanging his collection.

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    Noah Kalina

    Paul Philippe Cret designed this Beaux-Arts limestone building, completed in 1925, to house Barnes's collection in Merion, Pa.

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    Courtesy 2012 Barnes Foundation

    This rendering of the new Barnes depicts the distinctive light canopy that runs across the top of the building.

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    Noah Kalina

    Derek Gillman, the Barnes Foundation's director and president, helped oversee the selection of Williams and Tsien to design the new building.

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    Courtesy 2012 Barnes Foundation

    A rendering of the new Barnes showing the new building's central court, with its hand-chiseled limestone slabs and a carpet of wood salvaged from the old Coney Island boardwalk.

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    Courtesy 2012 Barnes Foundation

    A rendering of the new Barnes showing a garden included in the processional entrance to the building.

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    Noah Kalina

    The distinctive light canopy of the new building, which cantilevers over an outdoor patio.

It will never be the old Barnes again. But even the fiercest critics of the new Barnes Foundation building have to admit that it's got one thing that the old building never did: environmental credentials.

Tonight, in a ceremony at the Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects–designed building on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, U.S. Green Building Council CEO Rick Fedrizzi will award the Barnes Foundation its LEED Platinum award, making the museum the first major art institution of its kind to achieve that level of certification.

"From diverting 95 percent of construction waste from landfills as it redeveloped this brownfield site to a building with anticipated energy savings of 44 percent over a traditionally designed equivalent, it's a marquee project not only for Philadelphia but the country," Fedrizzi said in a release.

Barnes Foundation president Derek Gillman cited Billie Tsien, AIA, and Tod Williams, FAIA, for a building design that includes a vegetated roof, rapidly renewable materials, and water efficiency throughout the Foundation's 4.5-acre campus. Gillman praised the work of Olin (the landscape architects who designed the site and plantings), as well as Fisher Marantz Stone (who designed the building's lighting), and Ballinger (who led the effort for LEED certification).

"The Barnes Foundation's new building is a wonderful addition to Philadelphia's iconic Parkway, not only for the benefits it brings to Philadelphia and the larger community, but for its attention to environmental design standards," said Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, who won the American Architectural Foundation's Joseph P. Riley Jr. Award for Leadership in Urban Design in 2012. "It's a project that shows that Philadelphia is a city that cares deeply about the arts and sustainability."

Some critics of the new Barnes Foundation will never be mollified—as ARCHITECT's Eric Wills explained in a feature on the design decisions that led from the historic mansion in Merion, Penn., to a new building nearly eight times its size. However history judges the decision to uproot the original Barnes Foundationa building that critic Jed Perl just recently eulogized as "that grand old curmudgeonly lion of a museum" in The New Republic—it will be forced to admit that the move came at no harm to the environment.