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International Architect to Envision a Renewed Albright-Knox: Museum Seeks Architectural Partner for Next Phase of Development and Growth

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Buffalo, NY — The Albright-Knox Art Gallery announced today that it intends to select an architectural design partner for an expansion at its Elmwood Avenue campus. The five firms included on the Museum’s shortlist of potential partners are Allied Works Architecture, Bjarke Ingels Group, OMA, Snøhetta, and wHY. Final selection is expected to be announced in June 2016, with the design phase of the project to take place over the following year.

Speaking about today’s announcement, Dr. Janne Sirén, Peggy Pierce Elfvin Director of the Albright-Knox, said, “As the next phase in a project of generational significance for the Albright-Knox and Western New York, we seek an architectural partner to work closely with us over the coming year in developing plans for an expanded and refurbished museum. A particularly important aspect of the project will be its sensitivity to our existing historic buildings and their setting in an iconic Olmsted park. The community has asked us to consider how an expanded museum can enhance the entire cultural district that surrounds us, and with that in mind our partner will engage in an active public dialogue during the design phase.” Mr. Robert G. Wilmers, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of M&T Bank Corporation and Chairman of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery’s Capital Campaign Committee, stated, “This is an exciting and most important project for the Gallery and, indeed, for the future of Western New York.”

The Albright-Knox is the sixth-oldest public art museum in the United States and one of the oldest museums anywhere dedicated to the art of our time. Acquiring the finest examples of contemporary creative expression has been the Museum’s focus for more than a century and a half. Founded as The Buffalo Fine Arts Academy in 1862, the Albright-Knox today houses one of the greatest collections of modern and contemporary art in the world. The Albright-Knox is committed to maximizing the economic and social impact of the museum as a vibrant hub where people from all walks of life can connect with art, ideas, and one another.

History of Albright-Knox Architecture
At the turn of the twentieth century, industrialist John J. Albright contributed funds for a building to house the growing collection of The Buffalo Fine Arts Academy. Designed by Edward B. Green, the Beaux-Arts marble structure within Frederick Law Olmsted’s Delaware Park was dedicated in 1905 as the Museum’s first permanent home. During the middle years of the last century, Seymour H. Knox, Jr., then the Museum’s most influential supporter, commissioned Buffalo native Gordon Bunshaft of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill to design a new wing to add social space, modest exhibition space, and an auditorium. The expansion, which adjoins the south façade of Green’s 1905 building, opened to the public in January 1962.

From 1962 to the present, the holdings of the Albright-Knox have quadrupled in number and now comprise more than 8,000 objects, of which only some 200 can be shown at any given time. The current plan will allow the Museum to add much-needed space for special exhibitions and to have a broader range of masterpieces from its remarkable collection on permanent display. Realizing the expansion, which includes upgrades to the whole of the museum campus, will enable the Albright-Knox to operate more effectively, provide enhanced service to the community, and anchor a vibrant cultural district in Western New York.

Allied Works
Allied Works Architecture is a 40-person firm led by Brad Cloepfil from offices in Portland, Oregon and New York. Guided by principles of craft and innovation, Allied Works creates designs that resonate with their specificity of place and purpose. The organization's practice is grounded in the belief that architecture provides meaningful new insight into its surrounding physical and ideological landscapes. Using a research-based approach, Allied Works distills the elemental principles that drive each project and transforms them into material, shape, and structure–architectural designs that engage public imagination and amplify a city’s cultural legacy. Founded in 1994, Allied Works is widely recognized for its cultural projects, among them the Clyfford Still Museum in Denver, Colorado, which has been acclaimed for its nuanced approach to light and space in showcasing the creative vision of a single artist. The firm’s prominent arts and educational projects also include the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis; the Museum of Arts and Design in New York; Seattle Art Museum; the University of Michigan Museum of Art; Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in the Dallas Arts District; and the Schnitzer Center for Art and Design at the Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, Oregon.

Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) is a New York and Copenhagen-based collective of architects, designers, and thinkers operating within the fields of architecture, urbanism, research and development. BIG is led by twelve partners and seventeen associates. With an international team of 300 people, BIG works on projects across a broad spectrum of industries and in more than twenty countries worldwide. Projects include a masterplan for the Smithsonian Institution South Campus in Washington, DC, and the recently opened Danish National Maritime Museum in Helsingør, Denmark. BIG takes a human centered approach to architecture—looking at how urban environments can increase the quality of life, and designing cities and buildings as double ecosystems that are both ecologically and economically profitable.

OMA is a leading international partnership practicing architecture, urbanism, and cultural analysis. OMA’s buildings and masterplans around the world insist on intelligent forms while inventing new possibilities for content and everyday use. AMO, the firm’s research and design studio, works in areas beyond architecture that today have an increasing influence on architecture itself: media, politics, renewable energy, technology, publishing, and fashion. OMA New York, founded in 2001 to oversee OMA’s projects in the Americas from concept through construction, has overseen completion of Milstein Hall at Cornell University, Seattle Central Library, the IIT Campus Center in Chicago, and the Prada Epicenter in New York. The New York office will celebrate the completion of four cultural collaborations this year, including the Faena Forum in Miami Beach, the Quebec National Beaux Arts Museum in Quebec City, and two exhibition designs for the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Park Avenue Armory in New York. OMA New York’s engagements with urban conditions around the world include a new civic center in Bogotá, Columbia; a post-Hurricane Sandy urban water strategy; a food hub in Louisville, Kentucky; and an elevated park in Washington, DC.

Snøhetta values human interaction. All of the studio’s work strives to enhance our sense of place, identity, and relationship to others and the physical spaces we inhabit, whether natural or human-made. For more than twenty-five years, Snøhetta has designed and built award-winning cultural, civic, and institutional projects that strive to enhance the public realm. As an integrated architecture and landscape architecture practice, the firm works across a broad scale, from beehives and dollhouses to the Norwegian National Opera & Ballet and National September 11 Memorial Museum Pavilion. Current projects under construction include the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Expansion in California, opening in May 2016, the Redesign of Times Square in New York, and the Lascaux Caves Museum in Montignac, France. Snøhetta is also a finalist to design the Barack Obama Presidential Center in Chicago.

Based in Los Angeles and New York, wHY was founded by Kulapat Yantrasast in 2004 and has established itself in the international design vanguard for completing widely-acclaimed projects that serve the arts, communities, and the environment. The practice is structured as an “Ecology of Disciplines”—four workshops focusing on ideas, buildings, grounds and objects—to approach projects from multiple angles resulting in holistic, sustainable designs. Upcoming project openings in 2016 include the new Speed Art Museum in Louisville; SKY LANDING by Yoko Ono, phase two of wHY’s framework plan for re-designing Jackson Park in Chicago; Marciano Art Foundation, the adaptive reuse of a monumental Scottish Rite Masonic Temple on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles; and several private residences in the United States and Thailand.