Extensive modification of art museum and office building to double exhibition space. Addition of 3-story skylit atrium and curved cantilevered staircase; entry expansion. 74,000 sf.
The Asia Society Museum renovated 20,000 square feet of its existing 71,000-square-foot headquarters building to provide a third floor of exhibition space and 3-story atrium. The elegant Park Avenue building, designed in 1981 by Edward Larrabee Barnes, is in the Upper East Side Historic District. The new design was approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission. The building has eight stories and two below-grade levels. The double-height entry was redesigned and the upper floors renovated to double the existing 5,000 square feet of gallery space. A visitor’s center was created near the entrance and the shop was expanded. The facade remains virtually unchanged except for the expansion of the entryway. Plans to remove the wall along 70th Street were reduced to two large cutouts, providing views of the sculptures, plantings, and 60-seat café in the glass-enclosed court.
Factors that motivated the renovation included the installation of the building’s first freight elevator and the need for space for additional air-conditioning and heating equipment to replace the inflexible original system that began to fail. The 4,000-square-foot atrium replaces a rarely used second-floor terrace at the southeast corner. Bronze-coated cruciform steel beams fan around the L-shaped space in undulating double curves. A slightly curved cantilevered glass staircase in a skylit stairwell connects the renovated auditorium with the galleries on the second and third levels. Two galleries have 90 x 40-foot clear spans. The new third-floor gallery facilities are for permanent display of the Rockefeller Collection of Asian art. Office floors were renovated to make room for additional staff.
Completion Date: 2000 Location: New York, New York Owner or Client: Asia Society Prime Consultant(s): Voorsanger & Associates