Albright-Knox unveils AK360 museum expansion plans and new kaleidoscopic artwork

The Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York has unveiled its AK360 expansion plans and announced a towering mirror-mosaic canopy.

The museum confirms that its buildings will close for at least two years, and reveals that it will host off-site exhibitions, performances, and special events in a 15,000-square-foot space, known as Albright-Knox Northland, beginning in 2020.

Set to open in 2021, a new, semi-transparent building on the northeast end of the museum’s campus will have about 30,000 square feet of new gallery space. The building will connect to the 1905 structure via a winding, scenic bridge.

The project is now projected to cost $160 million. The gallery will be renamed the Albright-Knox-Gundlach Museum when it reopens, to honour Jeffrey Gundlach, who donated a total of $52.5m.

A light canopy of glass and mirrors

Common Sky, designed by Icelandic-Danish artist Olafur Eliasson and architect Sebastian Behmann, will cover the Indoor Town Square, a new community space.

A light canopy of glass and mirrors over the courtyard of the 1962 Building, Common Sky will create complex, kaleidoscopic reflections that frame unexpected views of visitors and their surroundings.

The panels cast patterned shadows on the floor and interior of the courtyard that change throughout the day with the weather and lighting outside.

“Common sky is an expansive sculpture through which visitors experience the constant motion of the surrounding natural environment,” said Eliasson.

“The changing light conditions, the passing clouds, the progression of the sun over the course of the day, the flow of the seasons all resonate within this warm, welcoming space.”

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Behmann added: “The artwork’s structure emerges asymmetrically from the courtyard to form a striking contrast with the symmetrical Bunshaft building.

“Common Sky is an instrument that uses transparent glass and mirror reflections to modulate visitors’ view into the trees of the park while generating an ever-changing shadow pattern on the ground; it forms a new public space that will host shared experiences of the natural environment within its sheltering embrace.”

In June 2016, Albright-Knox announced its selection of OMA/Shohei Shigematsu as its architectural design partner for the project. OMA has now refined the design for the north building.

Shohei Shigematsu said: “Our goal was to enhance the clarity of the galleries and provide a diversity of experiences with art, landscape and the historic context.

“We are excited to collaborate with Studio Other Spaces whose artwork will create a covered public courtyard and an additional focal point within the museum campus.”

30,000 feet of new exhibition space

Under the plan developed by the museum with OMA/Shohei Shigematsu, the new building will add 30,000 square feet of exhibition space.

The new building will feature new visitor amenities and a wraparound promenade that visually connects the interior of the building with the surrounding Frederick Law Olmsted landscape.

“We are committed to making our new campus inspiring and welcoming to all, with 30,000 square feet of new exhibition space, a wing dedicated to education and community engagement, and state-of-the-art visitor amenities,” said Janne Sirén, Peggy Pierce Elfvin Director of the Albright-Knox.

“Shohei Shigematsu’s brilliant design and Olafur Eliasson and Sebastian Behmann’s masterpiece above our new Indoor Town Square promise to transform the Buffalo AKG Art Museum into a national landmark and a globally recognized destination.”

Improvements to Albright-Knox

  • Build an underground parking structure and transform the surface parking lot into a vibrant green landscape and gathering place
  • Open a route through the museum from Elmwood Avenue to Olmsted’s Delaware Park, adding a new point of entry and exit on the east façade of the museum’s 1962 Building
  • Cover the 1962 Building’s open-air Sculpture Garden to create an Indoor Town Square
  • Create a new education wing in the lower level of the 1962 Building
  • Construct a signature scenic bridge that connects the new building with the 1905 Building

Images: Albright-Knox