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The Barnes Foundation Unveils Design by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects for New Building in the Heart of Philadelphia

The Barnes Foundation Unveils Design by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects for New Building in the Heart of Philadelphia

"Gallery in a Garden" Design Maintains the Intimate Character, Original Gallery Configuration and Distinctive Installation of World-Renowned Collection


October 7, 2009, Philadelphia, PA -- The Barnes Foundation today unveiled the design for its new building on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia. The design by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects respects the distinctive nature of the Barnes Foundation, preserving the experience of the existing galleries in Merion, PA, while also providing space to focus on the Foundation's core ideals of education and connection to the landscape. 

Scheduled to be completed late in 2011, the Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia is the first major addition to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in over sixty years and will become a vital part of the city's cultural corridor. Construction is slated to begin in the fall of 2009. 

The two-story, 93,000-square-foot building, with an additional level below grade, will house the Foundation's collection of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist and early Modern paintings, African sculpture, Pennsylvania Dutch decorative arts, and other important works. The collection will be displayed in 12,000 square feet of exhibition space that replicates the scale, proportion and configuration of the original galleries in Merion. The galleries will include a classroom on each floor to facilitate teaching, as well as an internal garden. In addition, vastly improved lighting will enable visitors to see the art in a more natural setting. 

The new building will provide significant space for the Foundation's core educational mission with classrooms and a 150-seat auditorium on the lower level, as well as much-needed facilities for painting conservation and research on the second floor. In addition a 5,000-square-foot Special Exhibitions Gallery will be equipped with 16-foot-high ceilings that can accommodate large-scale art installations. The building also will include a 50-seat café with a courtyard for outdoor dining and a gift shop. 

"This masterful design meets all of the goals of the Barnes Foundation in bringing the benefits of its collection and art programs to Philadelphia," said Dr. Bernard C. Watson, Chairman of the Barnes Foundation Board of Trustees. "The guiding principle in this project has been to respect the underlying educational mission of the Barnes Foundation, to replicate the galleries and ensembles as well as the garden setting, and to create additional opportunities for increased access. Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects and Olin landscape architects have skillfully and thoughtfully accomplished this task." "Bringing the Barnes Foundation's art collection to a new home on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway will fulfill Dr. Barnes's educational mission in crucial ways appropriate to the 21st century," said Derek Gillman, Executive Director and President of the Barnes Foundation. "This is an exceptional teaching collection and we shall have the opportunity to enrich our art education programming and outreach, thereby fulfilling Dr. Barnes's mission and making the galleries more accessible for all." Aileen Roberts, Barnes Foundation Board of Trustees member and Chair of the Building Committee said: "We are extremely gratified by the design ideas from our architectural team. Set in generous gardens with walkways and water features, this dignified building has a unique glass canopy that will filter natural light into the galleries during the day and by night will be a softly glowing beacon. The glass covering will be installed with solar cells, and with a "green" roof and other provisions, this building will aim for the highest standards of environmental sustainability. The Barnes building will clearly be a wonderful addition to the Parkway, and will draw many new visitors not only from the Philadelphia community, but from around the world." 

Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter stated: "This wonderful building will unquestionably be one of the most important cultural additions to the City of Philadelphia, and indeed to the cultural landscape of our region. Philadelphia congratulates the Barnes Foundation and its architectural team on this remarkable design, and looks forward to embracing the finished building as a symbol of our region's growing cultural and educational prominence. 

Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, in conjunction with landscape architect Laurie Olin, have conceived a "gallery in a garden," which honors the original Barnes facility and provides a highly personal and contemplative experience. This design proposes a series of distinct outdoor areas that unfold to visitors as they approach the building, passing through the public gardens and entry atrium en route to the galleries. 

"We hope that visitors will be able to relax, drop their shoulders and leave the outside world behind when they enter the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia," said Billie Tsien, Principal, Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects. "When they do, they will discover a place with a highly personal feeling, where the brilliance of the art collection and the distinctive hang are fully respected." 

The building will feature a textured grey-and-gold Ramon limestone exterior. The hand-tooled stone set in panels will be overlaid on strips of recessed steel. Landscaped grounds on the four-and-a-half acre site will reference aspects of the Barnes Arboretum in Merion. A park on the corner of 20th Street and the Parkway, will provide a new public gathering space in Philadelphia, with an elegant elongated fountain set amid gravel-surfaced walkways and gracious seats. London plane trees on the site will be preserved and will serve as a buffer between the building and the busy city. At the same time, this building engages the Parkway directly and is inviting to pedestrians. 

The Barnes Foundation is seeking LEED platinum status for the new building. The project will feature a high-performance building envelope and efficient energy conservation practices will be used throughout the design. A green roof and abundant permeable surfaces will allow for rain and grey water re-use, and the incorporation of reclaimed Pennsylvania wood and local materials during construction will enhance the sustainability of the building. 

The Barnes Foundation's capital campaign is estimated to be $200 million; $150 million is needed for construction and related costs, and $50 million has been budgeted to establish an endowment. 

 

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For more information contact:
The Barnes Foundation
215.278.7160
press@barnesfoundation.org 

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