The new 75,000 square foot museum, designed by Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects, the acclaimed firm that also designed the 1992 addition to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City, will stand on 4.9 acres of land on the southwest corner of Elmwood Avenue and Rockwell Road.
The two-story building, scheduled for completion in fall 2007, will be the Burchfield-Penney’s first free-standing home and have a major presence on Elmwood Avenue in the heart of Buffalo’s Museum District. The new facility doubles gallery exhibition areas and provides more than six times as much space available for education and public programs.
The building design is the result of over six years of consultation with more than 300 members of the community to determine both functional and formative priorities for the Burchfield-Penney’s new facility. The building’s goal is to achieve an exceptional well functioning museum that will address the needs of the Burchfield-Penney’s collection, exhibition, education and visitor service requirements— a museum that will create an effective platform for the Burchfield-Penney to fulfill its mission while complementing and enriching Buffalo’s rich architectural heritage.
Charles Gwathmey, principal of the internationally renowned firm said combining academic and museum space in the new building "establishes an ideal synergy and discovery process that reinforces the holistic learning experience. It continuously energizes and populates the building with both visitors and users, which the typical museum cannot attain."
According to Burchfield-Penney director Ted Pietrzak, "Gwathmey Siegel has delivered an exceptional instrument that will allow us to fully realize the potential of our mission while adding an important architectural achievement to Buffalo’s rich heritage."
The design of the new building will organize the Burchfield-Penney’s expanded functions into four areas – exhibition galleries, educational spaces, visitor service amenities, including a cafe and museum store, and museum support areas consisting of art storage, an art conservation laboratory and administrative offices.
The building’s exterior combines geometric forms, patterns and materials and includes walkways, gardens and sculpture in a park-like, pedestrian-friendly setting adjacent to the Elmwood Avenue elevation. These features complement the facade and welcome and direct visitors to the building’s entrance off of Rockwell Road. The Rockwell Road entrance allows for convenient access to the facility for pedestrians, Buffalo State students, bus and automobile traffic and people with special needs.
Visitors will pass from the entry into a two-story concourse, lit by a series of domed skylights, that concludes with the entrance to the exhibition galleries and auditorium. Along one side of the concourse are the caf?, museum store and orientation and classroom spaces. Along the other side is the grand staircase to second floor galleries, reception area, a large outdoor terrace and museum support areas.
The first floor exhibition galleries for the permanent collection consist of more intimate spaces including one that houses Burchfield’s studio and a rotunda suitable for exhibiting the artist’s vision of the transition of four seasons. A large, two-story gallery with a curving wall will accommodate feature exhibitions, and a flexible project space will accommodate contemporary installations. A stairway within the two-story gallery accesses additional exhibition spaces on the second floor which are dedicated to the arts in craft media and sculpture. These galleries reconnect to the reception space and terrace.
"The new Burchfield-Penney Art Center at Buffalo State College will be a unique academic resource; it will be used by students in several of our academic departments including art education, exceptional education, fine arts, design, history, and communication," said Dr. Muriel A. Howard, president of Buffalo State College. "Our nationally renowned art conservation program will benefit from a state-of-the-art paper conservation laboratory. We are delighted that the partnership between the college and the museum brings this tremendous resource to the students and faculty at Buffalo State College and to the larger community."
The total project cost of the new Burchfield-Penney Art Center is $30 million. An additional $3 million is being raised to fund an endowment. To date, $26 million has been raised.