The Frick Collection, which abandoned plans for a six-story addition last June after the proposed destruction of a small garden at the E. 70th Street institution caused an uproar, announced last week a new effort to update and expand.
Any new expansion will not harm the garden, designed by landscape architect Russell Page, which caused such a swell of controversy. The earlier plan earned criticism from locals as well as preservation and landscape organizations for the threats to the garden and the museum’s unique intimacy.
With no architect chosen yet, the Frick will submit requests for qualifications to certain firms, and hopes to pick an architect later this year. Architecture firm Davis Brody Bond, which worked with the museum on the design of its unsuccessful addition, will receive a request for qualification along with other firms, but the museum’s media relations department said that considering a larger pool of architects can widen the conversation about the new direction. The museum hopes to see first designs in 2017.
“We felt it was important to consider and assess an expanded roster of architects as we enter into this new phase, and we’re inviting approximately 20 firms to participate. We’re excited to be entering this process and look forward to the ideas and dialogue that will result. Above all, our goal is to ensure the long-term vibrancy of the Frick while preserving the intimate visitor experience that we all value,” Frick director Ian Wardropper said in a statement.
Though the approach has changed, the needs for improvements to the Frick’s facilities remain, Wardropper also noted in his statement.
As with the previous plan, the Frick seeks to open second floor rooms as gallery space with this project. Once bedrooms and living spaces for the mansion’s occupants and currently offices and meeting areas, the second floor rooms have never been open to the public. It’s unknown where the administrative functions will end up.
The museum also looks to link the Frick mansion with the institution’s art reference library on E. 71st Street and add a new special exhibitions gallery within the museum, along with updated conservation facilities and improvements to visitor services.
Without an architect at this point, exactly how the museum will address these needs isn’t known, nor is cost or a construction timeline for the project, though various options are on the table.