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11 January 2012
Architecture People and Places

Renzo Piano in Boston, Massachusetts  

Renzo Piano designed the new wing of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, Massachusetts. The three-story-tall special exhibition gallery is located above the "Living Room" visitor orientation space. Photo: © Nic Lehoux/ Renzo Piano Building Workshop Extra Large Image

Boston · 2012.0111

The new wing of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, Massachusetts, is scheduled to open to the public on January 19, 2012. Designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano, the 70,000-square-foot (6,500-square-meter) addition provides purpose-built spaces for concerts, exhibits, and classes, along with enhanced visitor amenities. It is located behind the existing 57,000-square-foot (5,300-square-meter) museum building, built in 1901 along the Fenway. The design unveiling for the addition was covered in this column in January, 2010.

The new building features a transparent first floor of glass, above which four floating volumes, clad in pre-patinated copper and red brick, are organized on an axial circulation system. Visitors will enter the museum through a new entrance facing Evans Way Park into the glass-enclosed lobby. A three-story-tall special exhibition gallery features an adjustable ceiling, skylight, and north wall of glass. The largest space in the new wing is Calderwood Hall, a cuboid, 300-seat music performance space designed in collaboration with acoustician Yasuhisa Toyota of Nagata Acoustics. Adjacent to the main lobby, a working greenhouse with a sloped glass facade stands two stories tall, with two artist apartments on the second level. The new wing also houses conservation labs, an education studio, a gift shop, and a restaurant.

The museum is seeking LEED Gold certification for the $114 million addition. Sustainable design features include a ground-source heating and cooling system; daylight harvesting; water-efficient landscaping; and local, regional, and recycled-content materials.

Emanuela Baglietto served as senior partner in charge for Renzo Piano Building Workshop, which has offices in Genoa, Italy; Paris, France; and New York City. The project team also included Burt Hill (now part of Stantec), architect of record; Buro Happold, structural and mechanical engineer; Paratus Group, owner's representative; Shawmut Design and Construction, construction manager; and L+A Landscape Architecture, landscape architect.

The new Living Room helps to orient visitors to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Photo: © Nic Lehoux/ Renzo Piano Building Workshop Extra Large Image

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