Photos by Tucker Bair
The Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts, has reopened following a multiphase expansion and renovation realized by five architecture firms over the last 15 years. As executive architect, Gensler integrated the work of all the design team and provided the overarching framework of the project.
Tadao Ando Architect & Associates designed the 42,600-square-foot Clark Center, built in stone, concrete, and glass. The two-story building overlooks the three-tiered reflecting pool, designed by Ando and Reed Hilderbrand Landscape Architecture to connect the interiors and other buildings on the campus with the woodland surroundings.
The center features more than 11,000 square feet of gallery space for special exhibitions. The lower-level galleries, accessed by a dramatic glass and concrete stairway in the lobby, are partially situated beneath a green roof that forms an exterior courtyard at the facility’s main entrance. Also included are a café and museum store designed by wHY Architecture and Design; a multipurpose pavilion for conferences, lectures, and events; and a granite-and-glass corridor linking to the Ando-designed Museum Pavilion, a glass structure that creates a new entrance to the original Museum Building.
Selldorf Architects’ renovation of the Museum Building improves circulation by reorienting the structure to its original east-west axis and creating easier access to perimeter galleries. The redesign, which adds more than 2,220 square feet of gallery space, maintains the original domestic character while maximizing natural light coming in from side windows and skylights. The design team worked closely with the institute’s curatorial team in selecting wall colors and finishes for the restored galleries. Additionally, Selldorf created new casework and vitrines for the decorative arts collection.
The firm also is responsible for the Manton Research Center’s ongoing renovation, which calls for a new skylight system, bookstore, coffee bar, and the conversion of the building’s former library into a public reading room. The new Manton Study Center for Works on Paper and adjacent gallery will become available on a rolling schedule later this year.
New landscaping by Reed Hilderbrand includes planting of 1,000 native trees and the removal of invasive plants, upgrades to existing walking paths and trails, a new entrance drive, and landscaped parking areas.