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Frick Museum Selects Firm for $160M Reno

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

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New York City’s Frick Collection has chosen a design from Selldorf Architects in what is to be the first significant renovation and expansion for its Upper East Side location in years.

The $160 million design serves to address needs such as conversation facilities, space to display the permanent collection and an educational center.

Design Development

The building, originally constructed in 1914 by Carrère and Hastings as the home of Henry Clay Frick, was converted into a museum in 1935 by architect John Russell Pope, marking the last significant renovation work done to the structure.

The museum’s collection of paintings, sculptures, works on paper and decorative pieces has more than doubled since the Frick opened in 1935, and now holds about 1,400 pieces, according to Ian Wardropper, the director of The Frick Collection.

In the updated design, rooms on the second floor—the personal quarters of the Frick family—will be made open to the public for the first time in history, to serve as permanent-collection galleries. Paired with the creation of an exhibition area on the main floor, this will create 30 percent more exhibition space.

A dedicated education center, which will be entered through the museum’s art reference library, will welcome the 100 school groups that visit every year. The auditorium, previously only equipped with 147 seats, will be expanded to 220, with behind-the-scenes facilities, such as the museum and library’s conservation laboratories, also being updated.

Selldorf's design also includes a renovated lobby, a new level above the reception area and a larger museum shop. Additionally, two floors, to be set back from the street, will be added above the museum’s music room, and an addition behind the library will be as tall as the seven-story library itself.

According to The New York Times, the renovation’s aesthetic will honor the building’s history with the use of materials like Indiana limestone.

Garden Focus and Other Details

The Frick’s 70th Street Garden is also a significant point of focus in the renovation design. Originally designed by Russell Page, the garden will be restored by Lynden Miller, a garden designer and preservationist.

“The garden becomes the new center of campus,” said Wardropper. “It’s a beautiful garden—always was. Now we’re going to make the most of it."

As a whole, the project is striving for LEED certification, which will be a step toward ensuring the museum’s presence for future generations.

According to Wardropper, the Frick’s $30 million operating budget is expected to increase by $1 million or $2 million once renovations are completed, and the $22 admission fee is also likely to increase by an undetermined amount.

Moving forward, the Frick will present its plans to 75 community organizations. These plans will need to be approved by the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, given that the Frick is a landmarked structure.

Construction is set to begin in 2020 and will take two years to complete, with Beyer Blinder Belle serving as executive architect on the project. There is no word on if the museum will relocate to a temporary space or shut down entirely during construction.


Tagged categories: Design; Design build; Historic Preservation; Historic Structures; Maintenance + Renovation; North America; Renovation

Comment from Robert Bullard, (4/10/2018, 11:51 AM)

It is hard to connect such beauty to the person who had the wealth to assemble the beauty and what he did to accumulate his wealth. We must never forget the events in Homestead, Pennsylvania in early July, 1892 and the single person most directly responsible for the breakdown in the rule of law on that occasion.

Comment from John Gillis, (4/11/2018, 8:12 AM)

Mr. Bullard's comment is slanted and misleading. Frick (and Carnegie) were great benefactors of mankind because of their business skills and innovation. Their Homestead plant made possible modern structural steel in buildings, at prices contractors and owners could afford. Secondarily, they both were benefactors to the arts and education. The strikers (who were 21% of the workforce) were advocating a classic featherbedding operation, since the new steel-making techniques did not require their skills or presence. In other words, they were Luddites, attempting to thwart human progress. They bear responsibility for the bloodshed because of their attacks on the lawful property of Carnegie.

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