Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
extension by Renzo Piano


Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum extension by Renzo Piano

Architect Renzo Piano has completed a new wing at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, which opens next week.

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum extension by Renzo Piano

The extension comprises four connected new blocks that are fully glazed at ground floor level but are otherwise clad in pre-patinated copper panels.

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum extension by Renzo Piano

One block, named Calderwood Hall, houses a 300-seat auditorium that will host music performances, while another contains a temporary exhibition gallery with a retractable ceiling.

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum extension by Renzo Piano

The extension also includes a new glazed entrance lobby for visitors to the museum, which is furnished with sofas, lamps, plants and bookshelves to create the impression of a living room.

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum extension by Renzo Piano

The Shard, a skyscraper also by Renzo Piano, is under construction in London and will complete this year - see renders of it here.

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum extension by Renzo Piano

Photography is by Nic Lehoux.

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum extension by Renzo Piano

Here's some more information from the museum:

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Opens a New Wing and Restored Historic Galleries to Public on January 19, 2012

Extension Designed by Pritzker Prize-Winning Architect Renzo Piano

On January 19, 2012, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum will open to the public a new addition to its original building, kicking off an inaugural season of exhibitions, performances, and events that highlight the Museum’s wide range of programming.

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum extension by Renzo Piano

The new 70,000-square-foot wing was designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Renzo Piano to preserve the historic 1902 building and alleviate pressures caused by years of use. Situated behind the original building on its site along the Fenway, the new addition provides purpose-built spaces for concerts, exhibitions, and classes, along with enhanced visitor amenities.

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum extension by Renzo Piano

Following special advance previews for Museum members on January 15-18, the grand opening celebration will begin with a ribbon-cutting ceremony with City of Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino on January 19, followed by three days of free Bank of America Community Opening Days from January 19-21.

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum extension by Renzo Piano

“This new wing is an extraordinarily elegant workshop, a bustling counterpoint to the historic building’s serenity. Here, the thinking and the work of the Museum is performed, so that the Palace, which had been put to uses for which it was not equipped, can once again give visitors the experience Isabella Stewart Gardner intended: a personal confrontation with art,” said Anne Hawley, Norma Jean Calderwood Director of the Museum.

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum extension by Renzo Piano

The Design

The design of the Museum’s new wing incorporates glass and natural light to create an open and welcoming entrance, as well as to provide uninterrupted views of the historic building and gardens. The building features four volumes clad in green pre-patinated copper and red brick that appear to “float” above the transparent first floor. Key features of the new wing are a cube-shaped performance hall and an adjustable height special exhibition gallery, which are the Museum’s first purpose-built spaces to accommodate such functions.

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum extension by Renzo Piano

Visitors enter the Museum through a new entrance facing Evans Way Park into the glass-enclosed Bekenstein Family Lobby. A new space, named the Richard E. Floor Living Room, welcomes the visitor in an intimate domestic-like setting where hosts, books, and touch screen monitors on easels offer information about Isabella Stewart Gardner, the collection and its unique installation, and the Museum’s Artist-in-Residence Program.

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum extension by Renzo Piano

Calderwood Hall, the Museum’s new performance hall, is the largest space in the new wing at 6,000 square feet, and is designed in collaboration with acoustician Yasuhisa Toyota of Nagata Acoustics. With 300 seats configured in three balcony levels surrounding the central performing area on all four sides, the hall preserves the intimate experience that has long characterized the Gardner Museum’s music program.

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum extension by Renzo Piano

The Special Exhibition Gallery, which will present three major exhibitions each year, is a flexible space featuring a retractable ceiling and a full wall of windows overlooking the historic Museum and the Monks Garden. The addition also houses working greenhouses, a landscape classroom and expanded outdoor garden spaces; two artist apartments; conservation labs; the Claire and John Bertucci Education Studio, which will offer hands-on art workshops for students and families; a new store, called Gift at the Gardner; and a new restaurant, Café G, with indoor and seasonal outdoor seating.

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum extension by Renzo Piano

“Isabella Gardner’s Palace, with its treasured collection and inimitable installations, its verdant courtyard and mesmerizing corridors, will always be the focus of the Museum, but it could only remain so with the construction of a companion building. With housing for resident scholars and artists, labs for the conservation of the collection, and room for public assembly and school partners, the new wing frees up the historic building to fulfill its historic purpose,” added Hawley.

Isabella Stewart-Gardner Museum extension by Renzo Piano

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is seeking LEED gold certification by the United States Green Building Council. Primary components of the sustainable design are a geothermal well system, daylight harvesting, water- efficient landscaping techniques, and the use of local and regional materials, which reduces the environmental impact associated with transport.

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum extension by Renzo Piano

Restoration of the Palace

Since 1990, the Gardner Museum has completed significant restoration work on the historic palace building to stabilize its structure and help accommodate increased programming and attendance. Projects have included replacing the skylight over the courtyard with thermal pane glass and installing a climate-control system. Construction of the extension complements preservation work that is ongoing within the historic building, including a decade-long lighting project to protect sensitive artwork and improve the visitor experience.

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum extension by Renzo Piano

A centerpiece of the Museum preservation project is the Tapestry Room, which has been restored to its original glory after being used for 85 years as a temporary concert hall. As the Museum’s world-class concerts will now take place in the new wing’s Calderwood Hall, the Tapestry Room has been returned to its former configuration to be experienced as a grand tapestry hall. Conservation treatment of the space included the cleaning of its Mercer-tiled floors, restoration of the French medieval stone fireplace, reinstallation of select art and furniture objects, replacement of historic textiles with reproductions, and new lighting.

  • r.d

    No doubt this museum will function wonderfully and bring much needed additional space to the existing building. However, in comparison the existing building which is so whimsical and rich in decor and ambiance, these galleries seem particularly stark in contrast, and this new addition feels quite generic and acontextual. Perhaps I will be surprised upon visiting.

  • Alex

    not blown away, but i'm always a fan of green design and large windows.

  • dan vanasse

    we have got the likes of le corbu,saarinnen,and alto,within a 10 mile radius.for myself,mr piano's work will be a great addition to our architectural roster.(gehry also)

  • Colonel Pancake

    I think Renzo Piano is probably a poor choice for the addition. The original building is so intricate and ornate that Renzo's version of techtonic intricacy and functional ornamentation has little ability to complement it through stark contrast in a way that John Pawson, Chipperfield, Sanaa or some other designer might have been able to achieve. Looking at these photos, you have no sense that these are even at the Gardner Museum. It's almost antithetical to the museum's identity to use such a generic form of modernism to complement a predecessor that can't be mistaken for anything else in the U.S.

    Also, even if you ignore the building in relation to the original building, it still feels like Renzo on autopilot. It's nice, but it's not exceptional, or even inspiring.

    And finally, I miss the Vermeer.

  • Lando D

    Art might help warm the starkness that r.d. accurately describes above, but will the placement of 'art objects' bring viewers closer to the meaningful or just underline the office-like, glassy conference room aesthetic going on here?

  • Newton

    When will Boston step out and put up an exciting building? This could serve as a new space at Logan Airport, much like the new Shopping Mall that was added to the MFA. Horrible.