Page N1.2 . 21 January 2004                     
ArchitectureWeek - News Department
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  • High Museum Reilluminated
  • Build Boston 2003

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    High Museum Reilluminated


    According to John Starr, AIA, principal in charge of the High Museum's renovation, most of the two decades of modifications were done sensitively and respectfully. But their cumulative effect strayed from the architect's original intent. Now that plans are underway to build an extension to house traveling exhibits, it was decided to return the Meier building to its original function and appearance.

    Renovation construction took two months. A colorful Sol LeWitt mural was painted over in Meier's trademark white. Opaque covers were removed from skylights and clerestories, which were then fitted with transparent UV-filtering films and translucent shading fabrics. The architects installed interactive interpretive stations, a technology not available when Meier designed the building in the early 1980s.

    By removing recently added interior partitions, the renovation architects reopened long vistas through galleries. They also returned some of the galleries to Meier's original "room within a room" configuration. Local critic Catherine Fox, of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, observed: "The rooms-within-rooms change the scale, and the windows in the walls of these interior rooms frame views into succeeding galleries and give a rhythm to one's wanderings."

    When Meier was in Atlanta to celebrate the High Museum of Art's 20th anniversary, he said of the restored building: "It looks better today than the day it opened."

    Part of the renovation was a relocation of the gift shop and restrooms in anticipation of the construction of a pedestrian bridge to the new extension. Designed by the Renzo Piano Building Workshop in conjunction with Lord, Aeck & Sargent, the new building is expected to open in 2005.

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    Project Credits

    Original architect: Richard Meier
    Renovation architect: Lord, Aeck & Sargent
    Contractor: Skanska USA
    Lighting consultant: Arup Lighting
    Structural engineers: Uzun & Case
    Mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineers: Newcomb & Boyd
    Exhibition Designer: Quenroe Associates


    ArchWeek Image

    The central atrium of the High Museum of Art, designed by Richard Meier, is once again filled with light from the skylight above.
    Photo: Jonathan Hillyer/ Atlanta

    ArchWeek Image

    A gallery ends at a shaded curtain wall.
    Photo: Jonathan Hillyer/ Atlanta

    ArchWeek Image

    The "room within a room" configuration was key to the original design concept.
    Photo: Jonathan Hillyer/ Atlanta

    ArchWeek Image

    Vistas through glass walls and galleries.
    Photo: Jonathan Hillyer/ Atlanta


    Click on thumbnail images
    to view full-size pictures.

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