The Buffalo AKG art museum (previously known as the Albright-Knox art gallery) is located in Buffalo, New York, US.
The museum is undergoing an expansion and redevelopment programme, which includes the construction of new buildings and the renovation of existing structures. The project will double the museum’s exhibition space and enable it to accommodate its growing collection.
The estimated investment in the project is $230m. The construction began with a ground-breaking ceremony in November 2019. The expanded and renovated Buffalo AKG museum is set to open its doors to the public in June 2023.
The Buffalo AKG art museum is located at Elmwood Avenue at the northern edge of the historic Delaware Park in Buffalo, western New York.
The Buffalo AKG expansion project includes the construction of a brand-new museum building on the north end of the campus and refurbishment of the existing facilities.
The museum will have 50,000ft² of state-of-the-art exhibition space, five classroom studios and an interior gathering space.
The main components of the expansion include the development of a new Jeffrey E Gundlach building and the John J Albright bridge, in addition to the renovation of the Robert and Elisabeth Wilmers and Seymour H Knox buildings. The John J Albright bridge will connect the new Gundlach building to the Wilmers building.
A new underground parking garage will encircle the vibrant Great Lawn, a public park area of more than a half-acre adjacent to the Gundlach and Wilmers buildings. The lawn will host public gatherings and outdoor events.
The Wilmers building will be renovated to preserve its architecture and a new gallery area will be added, including the famous Sculpture Court. The historic staircase on the west side of the Wilmers building is also being renovated.
New Jeffrey E Gundlach building details
The new Jeffrey E Gundlach building will include more than 30,000ft² of space for special exhibitions, new gallery spaces, a sculpture terrace, a glass box theatre and a grab-and-go food and beverage area.
A key feature of the new building is a veil made of glazed steel and aluminium diagrid that wraps around the second and third levels. The veil includes a digital frit [the opaque substance that makes walk-on glazing safe] that helps in controlling solar heat gain when combined with the interior shading.
Seymour H Knox building renovation
The Knox building renovation will include the development of the Ralph C Wilson, Jr town square, a 6,000ft² community gathering space. The additional space is being created by enclosing the former outdoor courtyard with the Common Sky sculpture.
Inspired by the seasons of Buffalo City and the surrounding greenery of the museum, the Common Sky sculpture is a two-layer domed steel structure supporting more than 600 transparent glass and mirror panels. The alternating glass and mirror panels create kaleidoscopic reflections and unexpected views as visitors move around the courtyard.
The sculpture touches the ground to a single point of support, a funnel-like column at the same spot once occupied by a lone hawthorn tree planted in the 1960s.
The town square is surrounded by Cornelia, the museum’s new café, the Creative Commons, a multi-generational learning and play space, five state-of-the-art studio spaces, a 2,000ft² gallery and a 350-seat auditorium.
It will be accessible by the existing Elmwood Avenue entrance and by a new entrance on the east side of the Knox building.
Buffalo AKG art museum renovation details
The renovation works are designed to restore the marble cornice of the museum building. The works include the removal and resetting of the stones, the dismantling of the 115-year-old copper crest that surrounds the building cornice and installing new wood gutters. The copper crest was dismantled, restored and re-installed at its original location.
The white Cockeysville marble is undergoing low-pressure micro-abrasion to remove atmospheric soiling. In addition, scanning electron microscopy is being used to detect and remove deep penetrating stains within the marble.
Re-inforcing repairs being undertaken include the use of steel roof trusses as well as localised welding of steel plates to reinforce areas that showed signs of section loss. The clay book-tile roof is also being repaired and the large windows of the iconic glass-box auditorium are being reglazed.
The renovation includes the addition of new glazing and cladding systems at the new Jeffrey E Gundlach building, Albright bridge and new entrances. The glazing systems are made of aluminium toggle constructions that use insulated and argon-infilled glass with warm edge spacers.
All the glazing and cladding systems are designed to meet strict interior temperature, humidity and lighting standards to protect the art pieces at the museum.
The Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), an architecture firm based in the US and led by partner Shohei Shigematsu, was contracted for the expansion and renovation. Lawrence Siu and Paxton Sheldahl served as the project architects and Cooper Robertson as the executive architect.
Gilbane Building Company, a construction and facility management services provider, was awarded the construction contract for the project.
The renovation of the Robert and Elisabeth Wilmers building was designed by architect E B Green, while the Knox building renovation was designed by architect Gordon Bunshaft.
The Common Sky sculpture was designed by Olafur Eliasson and Sebastian Behmann of Studio Other Spaces, an architecture firm.
Thornton Tomasetti, a consulting firm based in the US, is providing structural and envelope renewal in addition to historic preservation services for the expansion and renovation project.
The firm is also providing facade engineering services to OMA and waterproofing services to Cooper Robertson for the new north addition to the gallery.
Boston Valley Terra Cotta, a custom architectural terra cotta manufacturer, supplied replacement material for the clay book-tile roof of the museum.