Thursday, October 23, 2008

Look Who Else is Building Underground

When I saw that the New York Public Library hired Norman Foster to carve out a new library space under the celebrated reading room of main 42nd Street building, my trend meter lit up. That's the exactly the strategy that the Philadelphia Museum of Art is following for its expansion, which is being designed by Frank Gehry. Based on the report in the New York Times, the library project is going to be even more complex than the art museum's because Foster will have to remove some of the underground book stacks, which double as supporting columns. The art museum merely intends to push out underneath its front plaza.
In case you've been wondering (I certainly have been) how that project has been progressing since I wrote about the plans a year ago, you may be able to glean some details when an exhibit on Frank Gehry's design process opens Nov. 8 in the museum's Perelman building. Gehry will be in town Nov. 7 to deliver the annual Collab lecture and receive Collab's Design Excellence Award.The exhibit focuses on his unbuilt design for Peter Lewis' house, which is seen as a precursor of Gehry's groundbreaking Guggenheim Bilbao museum.
Gehry was chosen for the Philadelphia museum job partly because he is a master at getting light into underground spaces. Foster, who was seriously considered for the Free Library expansion (which is supposedly starting construction in December), will have a much harder challenge working in the cavernous vault below the New York reading room.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The seven stacks that support the building are actually not underground. There is storage space attached to the Carrere & Hastings building underground in Bryant Park, and that will also be redesigned to accommodate the volumes that are currently stored on those seven levels in the original building.

11:40 AM  

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