THE FRICK COLLECTION UNVEILS DESIGN BY SELLDORF ARCHITECTS FOR UPGRADE AND EXPANSION OF ITS FACILITIES
Design Preserves and Enhances Visitor Experience of Museum, Library, and Gardens; Provides Unprecedented Access to Original Residence; and Creates New Facilities for Exhibitions, Conservation, and Education
April 4, 2018 (updated June 26, 2018)
The Frick Collection today unveiled the design for its expansion and enhancement by Selldorf Architects. Honoring the architectural legacy and unique character of the Frick, the plan provides unprecedented access to the original 1914 home of Henry Clay Frick, preserves the intimate visitor experience and beloved galleries for which the Frick is known, and restores the 70th Street Garden. Conceived to address pressing institutional and programmatic needs, the plan creates critical new resources for permanent collection display and special exhibitions, conservation, education, and public programs, while upgrading visitor amenities and overall accessibility. The project marks the first comprehensive upgrade to the Frick’s buildings since the institution opened to the public more than eighty years ago, in 1935.
Slated to break ground in 2020, the project encompasses approximately 60,000 square feet of repurposed space and 27,000 square feet of new construction. Highlights of the design include:
- Opening to the public a series of intimate rooms on the second floor of the original residence for use as permanent collection galleries. These spaces, together with a new special exhibition area on the museum’s main floor, introduce 30% more room for the presentation of art.
- The creation of a dedicated, purpose-built education center, the first in the Frick’s history, and a state-of-the-art auditorium that will better accommodate educational and public programs.
- New amenities and enhancements to better facilitate visitor circulation and ADA-accessibility throughout the Frick, including a passageway providing easy public access between the museum and library for the first time.
- Modernized back-of-house facilities including new conservation laboratories for the museum’s and library’s collections.
- Updated infrastructure to safeguard the Frick’s collection and buildings, improve its energy efficiency, and ensure the long-term preservation of the institution.
The design was developed by Selldorf Architects, with Beyer Blinder Belle acting as Executive Architect. Esteemed garden designer and preservationist Lynden B. Miller will work with the Frick to restore the 70th Street Garden in keeping with the vision of its creator, Russell Page. The construction budget is $160 million.
“Working together with the Board of Trustees and senior management, Selldorf Architects has developed a design that at once honors the Frick’s unique architectural history and improves access for all visitors,” said Ian Wardropper, Director of The Frick Collection. “The project harmoniously integrates the historic with the new and addresses all areas of the institution, which encompasses a number of buildings and additions made over the course of the past century. We are grateful for the support and public feedback we have received to date as we embark on this initiative to further the vision of Henry Clay Frick for an enduring and ever-vibrant institution.”
“Our proposed design is the result of an unwavering commitment to maintaining the intimate experience of viewing art at the Frick that is unique and special to so many—myself included,” said Annabelle Selldorf, principal and lead designer of Selldorf Architects. “With interstitial architectural interventions, we are able to provide clear and coherent new spaces with seamless connections that will allow the Frick to more thoroughly enact its mission in the twenty-first century.”
Originally designed by Carrère and Hastings as a private home for Henry Clay Frick, the main building has not undergone a comprehensive upgrade since John Russell Pope transformed and expanded it into a public museum and created a purpose-built structure for the Frick Art Reference Library in 1935 as well as the Frick’s iconic interior Garden Court. The Frick’s holdings, attendance, and public and educational programs have grown appreciably in the past decades, and many of the institution’s critical functions—from the presentation, care, and conservation of its collections, to education programs and basic visitor services—are constrained and retrofitted into inadequate spaces in the century-old former residence. There is also a pressing need to renovate and replace building infrastructure throughout the museum and library, including the deep basement under the 70th Street Garden, upgrading these to contemporary state-of-the art systems.
Betty Eveillard, Chair of the Board of Trustees at The Frick Collection noted, “Together with Selldorf Architects, the Frick has set forward a plan that graciously ushers our institution into the twenty-first century while preserving our Gilded-Age grandeur and sense of tranquility. The plan addresses the needs of the visiting public, our professional staff, and the thousands of students and researchers who enjoy the museum’s galleries and rely on the vast resources of the Frick Art Reference Library. From helping us share with the public more of the building and our collections to introducing new views of the 70th Street Garden, the design reaffirms the Frick as a one-of-a-kind destination in New York City.”
Design Plan for Frick Upgrade and Expansion
The design honors the Frick’s history and preserves its unique aesthetic, while providing a natural and seamless flow throughout the Frick’s exhibition galleries, library, and public spaces for visitors and staff alike. The plan respects the current scale and height of the Frick, which comprises the original three-story house by Carrère and Hastings and John Russell Pope’s adjacent seven-story-high library building. Visitors approaching the Frick from Fifth Avenue or 71st Street will notice minimal changes to the exterior. From 70th Street, the back of the library building—which today is visible above the garden and is cluttered by a large, exterior metal fire escape—will be expanded slightly to recapture unused space in a rear service yard behind the garden and enhanced with a new limestone façade. This will create a finished, integrated appearance and complement the facades of the original Frick buildings.
Visitors will continue to enter the Frick through the original 1930s museum entrance on 70th Street and will move from the main entrance hall into a more open reception hall. Originally built in 1977, the reception hall is being reconfigured for better public circulation through the general admissions and information areas. From the reception hall, the public will now have the choice of three possible routes through the museum. On the main floor, they may proceed as usual from the reception hall into the Frick’s Garden Court and permanent collection galleries, which will remain unchanged. Alternatively, they may go directly to a newly created special exhibition area, including a large gallery and two smaller spaces. This new gallery will enable the Frick to continue offering the kind of acclaimed shows for which it is known without having to remove from view larger works from the permanent collection, as must be done currently.
The reception hall will also provide direct access to the second floor via a new bank of elevators or an elegant new staircase—a nod to the signature Grand Staircase in the Frick family’s original home, which will also be open to the public for the first time. On this newly created level above the reception hall (achieved by raising the height of this tall room by only five feet), the public will be able to enjoy a contemplative seating area with a view of the garden, the museum shop, and the institution’s first café. Visitors also will have access, for the first time in the institution’s history, to a suite of rooms on the second floor of the original Frick residence, which will be transformed into gallery spaces.
Formerly serving as the private living quarters of the Frick family before being converted into administrative offices in the 1930s, these historic rooms retain many of their elegant architectural details and decorative finishes, including fireplaces, mahogany paneling, a series of Edwardian chinoiserie painted ceilings, and the Central Park views so enjoyed by the Frick family. Of more intimate proportions than the grand main floor rooms of the original home, these newly created galleries will enable the Frick to better present some of its smaller paintings and drawings, and bring out of storage more of its growing holdings in the decorative arts.
The design also provides the Frick with purpose-built spaces for its public and educational programs, including a dedicated main-floor education center. Visiting school groups are among those who will benefit from this facility, which will include classroom and orientation spaces as well as a group entrance. The education spaces will provide a link and public passageway between The Frick Collection and Frick Art Reference Library, enabling visitors and students to move easily between the buildings for the first time without having to exit the institution. The Library will be enhanced with a new digital art history lab and new public space for research and programs. Additionally, a new 220-seat, state-of-the-art auditorium will be created underground, mostly by transforming existing multilevel basement areas currently being used for storage and old infrastructure under the 70th Street Garden.
ADA access will be upgraded throughout the Frick. These improvements include new ramps at the public entrances to the museum on 70th Street and to the library on 71st Street. Two new ADA-accessible elevators will provide access from the reception hall to the upper floors of the former home and to the auditorium, restrooms, and coat check below. Other key elements of the design include the renovation of core back-of-house facilities, including the addition of new conservation spaces for both museum and library collections. For the first time, the museum’s conservators, who currently use repurposed spaces in the historic home, will have up-to-date facilities added above what is now the music room and an art service elevator that will allow larger objects to be brought upstairs for treatment. Similarly, the conservation team of the library will have a modernized and far more efficient facility for their work, which is critical to the preservation of the library’s important holdings as well as the works of art on paper in the museum’s permanent collection. This facility will include a lab for the digitization of the library’s collections to make them more accessible to users onsite and globally.
The Frick will pursue LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification for the project, which encompasses critical infrastructure and systems upgrades to the Frick’s aging buildings. The project will improve energy efficiency and overall sustainability, with the goal of safeguarding the institution and its collections for future generations.
About The Evolution of The Frick’s Buildings
Originally designed by Carrère and Hastings in 1914 as a private home for Henry Clay Frick, the structure has undergone several changes over the past century, most significantly during the 1930s when architect John Russell Pope undertook the conversion of the family home into a public museum. Pope’s expansion and additions nearly doubled the size of the original residence. As part of the 1930s project, Pope replaced a small building constructed in 1924 to house the art book collection of Mr. Frick’s daughter Helen Clay Frick with a seven-story-high library, today’s esteemed Frick Art Reference Library, which ranks among the world’s leading public art history research centers. In 1977, the Frick added to the museum two rooms with low ceilings at the basement level (which currently serve as small exhibition galleries), a reception hall to the east of the former residence, and the 70th Street Garden. The Portico Gallery was added in 2011 by enclosing an existing loggia in the Fifth Avenue Garden. The Frick is an individually designated New York City landmark and is located in the Upper East Side Historic District. The new design has received approval from the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission; it still requires approval from the New York City Board of Standards and Appeals.
About Selldorf Architects
Founded in New York in 1988 by Annabelle Selldorf, Selldorf Architects creates public and private spaces that manifest a clear and modern sensibility of enduring impact. The firm has particular expertise creating architecture that enhances the experience of art, having worked internationally on numerous museums, galleries, art foundations, and other cultural projects. Past projects include the Neue Galerie in New York, which, like the Frick, was originally designed in 1914 by Carrère and Hastings; the Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, MA; LUMA Arles, a new center for contemporary art in Southern France; and galleries for David Zwirner and Hauser & Wirth, amongst others. Current projects include the expansion of the Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego and the Swiss Institute in New York, which will open in June 2018. Annabelle Selldorf is a member of American Academy of Arts and Letters and was the recipient of its 2014 Award in Architecture and the 2016 American Institute of Architects New York Chapter Medal of Honor.
About Beyer Blinder Belle
Beyer Blinder Belle, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, will provide technical support to help realize the design plan being developed by Selldorf Architects. The firm is acclaimed for revitalizing the facilities of some of America’s most iconic public buildings and cultural institutions, and is known for their deep experience in restoration. In addition to the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., projects in New York City include The Met Breuer; Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum; Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration; Grand Central Terminal; Empire State Building; New York City Hall; and Temple Emanu-El.
About Lynden B. Miller
Consultant Lynden B. Miller has over forty years of experience working on major public gardens and parks throughout New York City, including The Conservatory Garden in Central Park, Bryant Park, The New York Botanical Garden, and Madison Square Park. She has designed landscape improvements to the campuses at Columbia and Princeton and plantings for the garden at the Museum of Modern Art. In restoring the 70th Street Garden, Miller will be working in tandem with the Frick’s longtime horticulturist Galen Lee, who trained under Russell Page and was hired by the Frick on his recommendation.
About The Frick Collection
Housed in one of New York’s last great Gilded Age homes, The Frick Collection provides visitors with an unparalleled opportunity for intimate encounters with one of the world’s foremost collections of fine and decorative arts. The house and collection originated with Henry Clay Frick (1849–1919), who bequeathed his home and collection of European paintings, sculpture, and decorative arts for the enjoyment of the public. Among the artists Frick collected were Bellini, Holbein, Houdon, Fragonard, Manet, Renoir, Rembrandt, Titian, Turner, Velázquez, Vermeer, and Whistler. The institution’s holdings, which encompass masterworks from the Renaissance through the early modern period, have grown over the decades, doubling in size since the opening of the museum in 1935. Among these complementary acquisitions are many longstanding public favorites, including works by Constable, Duccio, Gainsborough, Houdon, Ingres, Memling, Monet, Rembrandt, and Piero. Adjacent to the Collection is the Frick Art Reference Library, founded nearly one hundred years ago by Henry Clay Frick’s daughter Helen Clay Frick and recognized as one of the top resources of its kind in the world. Today, the Frick offers a range of exhibitions, concerts, and educational programs throughout the year, and continues to provide visitors with indelible arts experiences in a setting of tranquil contemplation.
SELLDORF ARCHITECTS SELECTED TO DESIGN AN EXPANSION AND UPGRADE OF THE FRICK COLLECTION
October 20, 2016 (revised March 7, 2017)
The Frick Collection has announced that Selldorf Architects has been selected to design a major upgrade, enhancement, and expansion of the institution’s facilities. Originally housed primarily in the residence of Henry Clay Frick, the institution today encompasses a constellation of buildings, wings, and gardens that have been built over the course of the past century. Working in partnership with Frick leadership and staff, Selldorf Architects will develop a design plan that addresses the institution’s pressing needs to accommodate the growth of its collections and programs, upgrade its conservation and research facilities, create new galleries, and — for the first time — allow for dedicated spaces and classrooms for the Frick’s educational programs. The new and enhanced facilities will be created within the museum’s built footprint and designed to foster a more natural and seamless visitor flow throughout the Frick’s exhibition galleries, library, and public spaces.
The appointment of Selldorf Architects to work with the Frick on the development of this design plan is the culmination of a rigorous 18-month process, which considered twenty architects from around the world with expertise in restoration and expansion of both historic and contemporary buildings and cultural institutions. The New York–based firm, led by Annabelle Selldorf, distinguished itself throughout the process for its creativity, vision, and approach, which respects the institution’s core goal of amplifying opportunities for intimate engagement with great works of art while preserving the domestic scale and aesthetic of the original home and the gardens. The Frick’s Architectural and Long-Range-Planning Committee, chaired by Trustee Dr. James S. Reibel and including President Emerita Helen Clay Chace, great-granddaughter of the museum’s founder, Henry Clay Frick, was unanimous in its decision, which was ratified today by the full board. As a next step, the Frick and Selldorf Architects will develop conceptual designs for the project, with initial plans expected to be shared with the public in winter 2017–18.
“Annabelle Selldorf is a visionary who creates elegant designs that seamlessly integrate the historic with the modern,” said Ian Wardropper, Director of The Frick Collection. “The firm understands and appreciates the value of institutional mission and has clearly demonstrated in past projects — such as New York’s Neue Galerie and the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown — how new designs can enrich, rather than overwhelm, already distinguished architectural spaces. Such an approach is essential to our project, which seeks to preserve the peaceful and contemplative experience that the Frick provides to its visitors. After a thorough and thoughtful selection process, we are thrilled to have found a partner so perfectly attuned to our institutional needs and who can work with us to preserve the residential scale and intimate character of the institution, which we value so deeply.”
Noted Margot Bogert, Chair of the Board of Trustees at The Frick Collection, “Throughout the selection process, Selldorf Architects demonstrated an innovative and sensitive approach to addressing the challenges inherent to this project and, more significantly, a deep respect for the characteristics and qualities that distinguish the Frick. We are looking forward to working with Selldorf Architects to create a comprehensive design plan that will enable us to better serve the public, scholars and students, as well as our staff.”
Founded in 1988, Selldorf Architects is internationally recognized for designing renovations and additions that honor a building’s original character and provide resources to better engage and serve contemporary audiences. The 65-person firm is known for creating public and private spaces that fuse contemporary sensibilities with enduring impact and for creating designs that enhance the experience of art. Past projects include the Neue Galerie in New York, which, like the Frick, was originally designed in 1914 by Carrère and Hastings; the Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, MA; the John Hay Library at Brown University, Providence, RI; and the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, New York University. Annabelle Selldorf was the recipient of the 2014 American Academy of Arts and Letters’ Award in Architecture and the 2016 American Institute of Architects New York Chapter Medal of Honor.
“We are honored to play a part in this critical moment of the Frick’s continued evolution,” said Annabelle Selldorf, Principal and lead designer at Selldorf Architects. “Success for the project will be a visitor experience that feels deeply familiar, authentic, and reassuring for those who know and love the Frick, and a welcoming and enchanting atmosphere for those visiting for the first time. We’re looking forward to working with the Frick to develop a gracious design befitting a great institution.”
In March 2017, Beyer Blinder Belle was selected to serve as the executive architect on the upgrade and expansion of the Frick’s facilities. The firm will provide technical support to help realize the design plan being developed by Selldorf Architects. Founded in 1968, Beyer Blinder Belle is acclaimed for revitalizing the facilities of some of America’s most iconic public buildings and cultural institutions. Possessing deep experience in restoration, the 185-person firm is known for adapting existing structures to improve their functionality and introducing new systems and technologies within a historic context. Past projects in New York City include The Met Breuer; South Street Seaport Museum; Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration; Grand Central Terminal; Empire State Building; and New York City Hall; as well as the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., among others.
“Both Beyer Blinder Belle and Selldorf Architects will bring to this project incredible insight, having successfully preserved the distinct character of numerous historic structures, as well as executing designs that maximize a building’s potential as a space for public engagement,” said Ian Wardropper. “Collaborating with Annabelle and her team, we are pleased to have identified an executive architect whose approach supports their design ethos and resonates with the core goals of the Frick’s expansion project. We look forward to our partnership with these two outstanding firms, both of whom share our commitment to honoring the qualities that make the Frick such a beloved institution.”
The Frick Collection Enters Into Next Phase of Planning for Upgrade and Expansion
March 25, 2016
The Frick Collection is entering into the next phase of planning for the upgrade and enhancement of its facility, which encompasses a constellation of buildings, wings, and additions constructed between 1914 and 2011. Following the withdrawal of the 2014 design proposal and a subsequent period of extensive study, Frick leadership has developed a new approach to upgrading and expanding its facilities that enhances opportunities for intimate engagement with great works of art and preserves the Frick’s gardens. As the next step in this process, the Frick is issuing a request for qualifications (RFQ) to select architectural firms, which are being invited to submit their credentials based on their relevant experience and expertise. The institution is planning to announce a finalist later this year and will work together with the selected architect to further define the expansion program, with initial designs expected to be unveiled in 2017.
Home to one of the world’s leading collections of fine and decorative arts, The Frick Collection is noted for the contemplative atmosphere of its galleries, which were previously the principal rooms of the private residence of Henry Clay Frick. It also houses the Frick Art Reference Library, one of the top five art historical research centers in the world. Although its collections, attendance, and public programs have grown significantly over the past decades, the Frick’s facilities have not undergone a significant upgrade since the 1970s. Many of the Frick’s critical functions are currently constrained—from the presentation, care, and conservation of its collections, to education programs and basic visitor services—having been retrofitted into spaces in and adjacent to the former residence.
The project will include the creation of new exhibition, programming, and conservation spaces within the institution’s built footprint. It will open to the public—for the first time—new areas of the historic Frick home, reorganize and upgrade existing spaces in the Frick’s buildings, and renovate underground facilities. It will create a more natural flow for visitors throughout the buildings, while enhancing and upgrading the behind-the-scenes facilities to enable professional staff to work more efficiently and effectively. At the same time, the expansion will preserve the distinctively residential character and intimate scale of the house and its gardens, both those original to the residence and in more recent additions. Further details on the enhancement and expansion plan, including project design, square footage and project budget, will be determined with the architectural team that is selected.
Statement from Frick Collection Director Ian Wardropper on the Expansion Proposal
June 4, 2015
“One year ago, The Frick Collection announced its plans for a building expansion to address the institution’s longstanding programmatic needs and better serve a visiting public that has grown substantially over the years. To realize this vision, the plan involved building on a lot that included the viewing garden on East 70th Street by landscape architect Russell Page.
After months of public dialogue and thoughtful consideration and weighing the potential for a protracted approval process against the Frick’s pressing needs, the Board of Trustees has decided to approach the expansion plan in a way that avoids building on the garden site.
The Frick remains committed to furthering its mission by attaining its goals, among them having additional space for the display of works of art, including galleries on the historic second floor of the mansion, dedicated classrooms for education programs, updated facilities for the care of our art and research collections, and better public access between the museum and the Frick Art Reference Library. We also plan to improve visitor amenities in general while offering equal access for visitors with disabilities. At the same time, preserving the unique residential character and intimate scale of the Frick will remain our top priority.
We are grateful to all of those who have supported the plan and understand that both they and those who have opposed it share a great deal of affection and respect for the institution. The Frick will immediately begin to develop a new plan that will help us satisfy our critical needs.”
We will post the dates and venues of public meetings connected to the review process of our master plan here as soon as they become available. Please check back for more information.