It’s been almost a year and a half since the Frick Collection scrapped plans for a controversial expansion from Davis Brody Bond that would have gotten rid of the property’s gated garden to make way for a six-story addition. The Times reports today, though, that the Board is moving ahead with a new version of the renovation, selecting starchitect Annabelle Selldorf from a pool of 20 firms who submitted proposals. She’s already worked on museum renovations at the Neue Galerie and the Clark Art Institute in Massachusetts, and according to Frick director Ian Wardropper, “She’s somebody who has a clear vision of respect for historical buildings but at the same time has a clean, elegant, modernist aesthetic that is very much about welcoming visitors today.”
The Frick is the former Upper East Side residence of industrialist Henry Clay Frick, one of a few remaining Gilded Age mansions in the city. It was built by Thomas Hastings in 1914, and today houses not only Frick’s collection, but newly acquired works as well. While “maintaining the museum’s existing footprint and preserving its jewel-box character,” Selldorf and her team have been tasked with improving circulation in the galleries, library, and public spaces. In a phone interview she said, “It’s about enhancing the visitor’s experience and making it utterly seamless, so that it doesn’t harm any of the existing experience that people cherish, myself included. We’ll do our darndest.”
Selldorf assured that the previously threatened garden will be left undisturbed, and Wardropper said another reason the Board chose her is her experience adapting spaces similar to those on the Frick’s second floor, where current gallery space will likely be expanded and new educational space will be added.
A design is expected to be released next winter, followed by a year-long approval process. In closing Wardropper said, “it’s about creating a kind of seamless set of spaces that respect what the Frick is all about — the intimacy, the quality of our collections, but adding spaces that will seem as if they were always there.”
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