OMA reveal design for bold extension to Buffalo's Albright-Knox Art Gallery

The building is enveloped by a translucent façade that achieves an open and ephemeral quality and engages the external environment
– Shohei Shigematsu, OMA partner

The Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York State has announced the next stage of its expansion ambitions by unveiling the design for a bold, freestanding new building.

International architects OMA have created the plans for the 29,000sq ft (2,700sq m) North Building extension, which will house parts of the museum’s world-renowned art collection and important visitor amenities.

The building is envisioned to have a wraparound promenade that visually and aesthetically connects the interior of the building with the existing campus and landscape.

“The north building comprises three levels offering diverse gallery experiences,” explained OMA partner Shohei Shigematsu, who will lead the project. “Encircling the second level gallery is a double-height promenade, a flexible space with 360-degree views to the surrounding buildings and landscape.

“The building is enveloped by a translucent façade that achieves an open and ephemeral quality and engages the external environment. Layers of visual and spatial connections throughout the north building foster dialogue with the architectural legacy of the Albright-Knox while inviting contemporary audiences to discover the diverse activities within.”

In addition to designing the North Building, OMA will also work to preserve and improve the gallery’s existing campus. Planned interventions include creating a new education wing in the lower level of the 1962 building, adding a new point of entry and exit on the east façade, and transforming a surface parking lot into a green landscape and gathering place.

A scenic bridge will be added to the landscape, connecting the North Building with the gallery’s existing facilities and a sculpture garden.

Janne Sirén, a director of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, said: “This new plan solves all the programmatic and operational challenges the museum has faced while meeting the priorities our community has so clearly expressed to us.

“Our goal has always been to make the museum a more welcoming, accessible, and inclusive place, physically and philosophically, while adding to Buffalo’s remarkable architectural legacy.”

The Albright-Knox, which was founded as The Buffalo Fine Arts Academy in 1862, is the sixth-oldest public art museum in the United States. It has a collection of over 8,000 modern and contemporary artworks from around the world, but only around 200 can be shown at any one time due to space restrictions.

The existing Beaux-Arts marble building was designed by Edward B. Green and opened in 1905, with a new wing, auditorium and sculpture garden added by Gordon Bunshaft in 1962.

The expansion has been planned to maximise the social and economic impact of the museum, transforming it into “a vibrant hub where people from all walks of life can connect with art, ideas, and one another.”

OMA were selected to design the extension ahead of Allied Works Architecture, Bjarke Ingels Group, Snøhetta and wHY.

Albright-Knox Art Gallery  Buffalo  New York State  OMA  North Building  Shohei Shigematsu 
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Snøhetta, BIG and OMA among big names fighting for Albright-Knox art museum expansion contract

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