Since 2004 we have been partnering with the team at the Art Museum to conduct numerous renovations as part of their master plan to modify and renovated the historic building, and we were delighted when they trusted us with executing the latest and most delicate phase of Frank Gehry’s Master Plan – known as the Core Project – for the historic landmark museum.
To paraphrase Gehry, the Core Project will “unclog the arteries of the building” making the interior more rational and understandable to the visitor while preserving the building’s architectural integrity. The core initiative includes adding 35,828sf of new gallery space and removing and rebuilding various walls. But before the new space can open to the public, we need to carefully work our way through this sensitive building.
Due to the extensive amount of heavy demolition required in the lower floors below the art galleries, we devised detailed work plans and reviewed them thoroughly with the owner and the team. In addition to minimizing vibration and dust, all excavation and demolition work was conducted on second and third shifts to minimize impact on the operating museum. As the building is close to 100 years old, the as-built drawings are inaccurate or non-existent requiring frequent survey of the space to verify the location of utilities and devise solutions to utility relocations while ensuring the systems remain operational for the museum to conduct business. When complete the upgraded MEP systems will be more sustainable and include a new fire protection and upgraded steam, gas and electrical systems.
Throughout the process, precision and care with renovation details has been important. Because the museum was originally built using Kasota limestone from a quarry in Minnesota, the project team sent a delegation back to the that very quarry to make sure any new sections maintain the color, pattern and features of the original material. The installation of new windows posed a similar consistency challenge. To solve it, the team removed one of the building’s windows and sent it to the original manufacturer in Buffalo, New York to make exact replicas for the expanded section. The project is also renovating and reopening the North Entrance along with a 640-foot long historic vaulted walkway which will be open for the first time since the 1960’s.
All the work is expected to be completed and opened to the public by the end of 2020.
Philadelphia Museum of Art
2600 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy Philadelphia, PA
Gehry Partners, LLP