The Brooklyn Museum Expansion
1986 - 1992
New York, U.S.A.
Total Floor Area: 132,000 sqm
Record Interiors 1991 for Excellence in Planning and Designs, Excellence in Design 1995, AIA
Official Web Site
In 1893 McKim, Mead & White won the original design competition for the Brooklyn Museum, a building situated adjacent to the Botanic Garden and near Olmsted and Vaux's Prospect Park, Grand Army Plaza, and the Brooklyn Public Library. The centerpiece of their Beaux-Arts-style proposal was a huge dome over a great hall, with arms radiating out in all four directions, each wing enclosing its own courtyard. Construction was begun on the basis of their 1.5 million-square-foot design, but it was never completed only the front wing with the facade and one block surrounding a courtyard on the east side were built.
The social function of the art gallery has changed in the hundred-year interim since the design, and it has become extremely difficult to extend the existing structures solely by adjusting the original master plan. The directors of the museum proposed a fundamental review of the master plan with which to organize projected stages of expansion and improvement through the year 2020.
After several rounds in the competition for a new master plan, the jury selected the proposal by the Arata Isozaki / James Polshek team. The design respects the McKim Mead & White scheme, draws out the principles of its internal development, and links the new elements with the existing structures. Connecting with the past are embraced through the development of contemporary architectural perspectives on the Beaux-Arts original. This was achieved by a commitment to the following principles:
1) Order: Contemporary forms like frames, grids, panels, and flush surfaces were given equal weight with the five orders of the Beaux-Arts style.
2) Composition: Disposed in biaxial symmetry, the original composition concept is preserved.
3) Manipulation: The section functioning as the keystone is restored to its original condition. The vista to the Botanic Garden is broadened, and its axis is partially rotated in order to create space for an outdoor sculpture garden. Even beyond the limits of physical structures, the design lets the original plan emerge in the floor and ground patterns.
The new master plan calls for approximately 40,000㎡ of renovations and 100,000㎡ of extensions, including parking.