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Chesterwood Barn Gallery & Visitor Center

Francoise Bollack Architects

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Project Description

This project consisted of designing an addition to a historic barn to provide a visitor center for Chesterwood, the summer home and studio of the sculptor Daniel Chester French, now a museum owned by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The addition included a museum shop, entry and display, storage and public restroom. The project also included the restoration of the historic barn to house a permanent exhibition. The National Trust's brief called for a signature building to represent the museum's place in contemporary culture.

What did Daniel Chester French do? He had, over time, added structures
around the barn to shelter carriages, animals and tools. These additions were direct, economical and of different sizes and materials.

What did we do? We continued the design and building pattern started by French. We split the addition's program into two components: (1) museum shop and (2) storage and public restrooms. These areas were given distinct architectural expressions. The Museum shop is inspired by basic metal agriculture structures. It reuses the existing foundations and cantilevers over them. The storage and restrooms are accommodated in a rebuilt "chicken shack" whose salvaged doors were incorporated in the new construction.

By analyzing the existing conditions and adding contrasting yet complementary volumes, we were able to design an addition, which brings the building into the present while fitting within the logic of its historical development.
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