An expanse of glass larger than a tennis court will showcase works of art and reveal public activity inside the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts when its new addition is completed. (Architectural rendering © 2008 Virginia Museum of Fine Arts) A dramatic glass wall will signal the mission of the expanded Virginia Museum of Fine Arts […]
An expanse of glass larger than a tennis court will showcase works of art and reveal public activity inside the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts when its new addition is completed. (Architectural rendering © 2008 Virginia Museum of Fine Arts)
A dramatic glass wall will signal the mission of the expanded Virginia Museum of Fine Arts by showcasing works of art and revealing public activity inside.
The insulated-glass wall on the east façade will be 40 feet high and 72 feet wide and will cover 2,880 square feet, an expanse greater than a tennis court.
Those passing by the museum will be able to see activity inside the museum’s triple-story atrium – a “main street” that will connect the new wing with two existing wings. In addition, skylights will allow natural light into the atrium and surrounding spaces.
VMFA Director Alex Nyerges says the enormous glass wall will “blur the boundaries between indoor and outdoor spaces,” make the museum a more welcoming place, and pioneer a new ideal for celebrating culture in public spaces.
A glass-enclosed stairwell on the north façade will also draw attention to a new main entrance. The entrance and forecourt will re-orient VMFA access to the stately Boulevard, one of Richmond’s main thoroughfares. At night, the atrium and stairwell will glow, giving the museum the appearance of a beckoning beacon.
Some of the glass panels are so large that only a few firms in the world are capable of manufacturing them, according to Richard Woodward, VMFA’s senior deputy director for architecture and design. The panels are being made by Eckelt Glas of Steyr, Austria. Shipments have begun arriving in Richmond, and the glass panels will be installed between July and November.
Individual panels as large as 8 by 16 feet will be held in place by concealed stainless steel supports. The objective, Woodward says, is to achieve “a smooth surface without visible mechanical fittings.”
From the inside of the expanded museum, visitors will be able to look east over Richmond’s historic Fan District neighborhood and towards downtown.
In his design for the addition to the nation’s largest and oldest state art museum, London-based architect Rick Mather also included large expanses of glass on the west façade that will allow visitors to view a new 4-acre sculpture garden and the early-20th-century residential neighborhood just west of the museum’s campus.
All told, the expansion exterior will be clad in 10,000 square feet of insulated glass and 22,000 square feet of limestone. Some 500 tons of steel and 20,000 cubic yards of concrete will support the structure.
Topping out for the steel roof structure is expected in the late summer or early fall of this year. Then, construction will continue on the building’s façades and interior, leading to an opening in late 2009, museum officials say.
The project will add more than 165,000 square feet of space to the existing 320,000-square-foot museum. The expansion increases the museum’s gallery space by 50 percent.
The interior of the addition will establish circulation corridors that will connect the new and existing buildings so that visitors may move throughout the museum without retracing their steps. Museum officials say this will enable them to organize the VMFA collections in even more meaningful ways.
A new 600-car parking deck, also part of the project, is already in operation. The 170,000-square-foot facility accommodates more than twice as many automobiles as the museum’s former surface lot. The majority of the former surface lot is being reclaimed for the new sculpture garden, a portion of which will cover the roof of the parking deck with a landscaped slope.
More information on the project, plus a photo gallery, is available online by clicking here.
– The information above was provided by Suzanne Hall at VMFA