Architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien wanted to make sure that the new Barnes was infused with natural light. To that end, one of the main architectural features of the project is the Light Court. Here, museum guests make the transition from the public areas to the galleries. The angled ceilingthe light canopycaptures southern light entering through a huge light box that runs the length of the building and casts it down into the space. The natural light combines with 28W T5 fluorescents and washes the perimeter walls, helping to give the space a sense of scaleand visitors a reference to the time of day.


Credit: Michael Moran/OTTO


Moving the famous Barnes Foundation art collection from a Paul Cret–designed gallery in Merion, Pa., to a 93,000-square-foot building in Center City required the architects to honor the past while advancing the future of the Barnes. They succeeded with a tripartite building that houses the Collection Gallery—a 12,000-square-foot space replicating the scale, proportion, and configuration of the Merion galleries—as well as an L-shaped pavilion and a light court connecting the two. Layers of landscaping, including a series of public gardens, reference the original arboretum in Merion.

Jury: “Given the collection’s requirement for display in its original context, the architect cleverly placed the ‘old building’ within its overall solution.”

Client: “We’ve had many comments about how lovely the processional landscape is. It works exactly the way the architects intended, bringing a sense of calm into the center of the city. This project has been very successful in every dimension.” —Derek Gillman, executive director and president, Barnes Foundation