It’s been a long time coming, but Sir David Chipperfield‘s expansion of the St. Louis Art Museum is finally scheduled to open later this year. The museum, which houses one of the most comprehensive art collections in the United States (including an impressive catalog of post-war German artists), is located in the city’s large urban landscape, Forest Park. In 2005, the Museum Board selected Chipperfield to design the expansion, with St. Louis-based HOK serving as the project’s architect of record. Two years later the Museum finally released plans and renderings of the design, which sparked controversy among local residents. The project halted with the economic downturn of 2008, and did not break ground until 2010. Now, eight years in the making, the expansion—Chipperfield’s largest U.S. project to date—will finally open this summer. Read more.
Featuring a polished concrete façade that incorporates Missouri river aggregates, innovative skylights, and large windows, the new East Building design is decidedly more modern than the Beaux Arts-style building designed by Cass Gilbert for the 1904 World’s Fair. The modern design was actually a point of controversy among some residents, who feared the addition would clash with the iconic building. Thankfully, Chipperfield’s design provides a seamless transition between the two buildings, featuring a distinctive coffered ceiling that provides natural light and dynamic viewing experiences within the galleries. The oscillation of daylight was one of the central themes behind the design of the space, and which creates better light conditions to view the artworks as well as highlighting the architecture of the galleries. The new building, which sits on over 211,000 square feet, includes 21 new galleries as well as a new parking garage (an important amenity for a city so reliant on car travel!)
All photos: via St. Louis Art Museum
While the St. Louis Art Museum is a public institution supported by regional property tax, the expansion was funded entirely through private donations. The construction of the expansion, which totaled $130 million, was the largest capital campaign for a cultural institution in the history of the city. The museum will be open to all, and admissions will be free, following a 100-year old ordinance that uses regional property tax to cover the operating costs of the city’s cultural institutions. Continuing it’s commitment to the local community, the construction of the East Building has allowed for the expansion of the education infrastructure, creating new classrooms and study spaces within the building, as well as renovations to the 480-seat auditorium.