Because of the constant need for temperature, humidity, and lighting control, art museums tend to be major energy hogs. But in New York City, we're seeing more and more art institutions paying special attention to energy efficiency and sustainability in their design and operation. The Queens Museum of Art is the latest addition to this list, having broke ground this past spring on a major addition to the institution that will upgrade its facilities and add 50,000 sq. ft. of gallery space. Designed by Grimshaw Architects, the state of the art addition will double the museum's size and incorporate green features like an underfloor HVAC system, locally sourced materials, and an abundance of natural light.
The $65 million project broke ground in April, and the building is expected to be complete by 2013. Ammann & Whitney worked with Grimshaw on the project as the Architect of Record and structural engineer. The expansion adds an entirely new entrance and entry plaza with a 220-foot long illuminated facade along the side of the museum facing Grand Central Parkway. The stunning facade, etched with “Museum” across it, will make the institution visible to everyone driving on the Parkway The east facing side that opens into Flushing Meadows-Corona Park will also have a new entrance and it will have expanded outdoor space. While the current museum building is rather conspicuously inconspicuous, the new exterior will elevate its stature and create a high visible transition from the park to the museum.
The two entrances will both open into a gorgeously daylight atrium, connecting the east and west sides of the museum — a key requirement for the project. The wide open entry gallery allows for displaying large-scale works and hosting a variety of different events. Visitors can walk around the atrium on elevated pathways that connect the seven new gallery spaces and allow for interesting views of the museum and the park.
To efficiently regulate temperature and humidity, Grimshaw incorporated an underfloor HVAC system that maintains a constantly controlled environment only in the areas that are used by visitors and contain artwork. Additionally, while the building has soaring 38-foot high ceilings, only the areas used by guests are conditioned. The lighting system combines natural and artificial light to create the optimal scenario for viewing art, but this system also reduces the museum’s need for electrical lighting, thus reducing its energy load.
Other green features include waterless urinals in the men’s bathroom, and the use of sustainably and locally sourced materials throughout the building. The expansion also adds a cafe, bookstore, and classrooms to the museum, and it gives the museum much more office and storage space, which will allow the institution to expand its collection and operations.
The Queens Museum of Art was originally built as NYC’s pavilion for the 1939 World’s Fair and hosted another World’s Fair in 1964-5. Rafael Viñoly redesigned the existing space in 1994, but the current expansion will significantly change and upgrade how the QMA functions, paving the way for an exciting and innovative future.
Images © Grimshaw Architects