Clark Art Institute Unveils Tadao Ando's Design For New Campus

For Immediate Release

March 03, 2003

Design includes new Building and Expanded Galleries, and
Focuses on Preserving the Clark's Unique Art-in-Nature Experience. Clark also planning Second Williamstown Campus as Part of Growth

WILLIAMSTOWN, MA (March 3, 2003) The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute today unveiled the design for its new building and comprehensive campus enhancement. The design by acclaimed Japanese architect Tadao Ando will add 95,000 square feet of space without increasing the Clark's "footprint," enabling the Institute to fulfill more effectively its dual role as a public art museum and a major academic and research center. It will unify the campus's existing buildings and reorient them to the natural landscape, reinforcing the Clark's unique standing as the only major art museum in the world that is not in an urban setting. The campus enhancement also includes several improvements to the Clark's dramatic rural landscape, which have been designed by landscape architects Reed Hilderbrand Associates of Watertown, Massachusetts.

"This design represents the inspired vision of a great architect, the result of an extensive planning process to develop a program for the Clark to build on its past achievements and fully realize the interplay between our artistic, intellectual, and natural resources," said Michael Conforti, director of the Clark Art Institute. "This project unites these three strengths by enhancing our grounds, expanding our facilities for public and academic programs, and upgrading our galleries to better display our growing permanent collection and special exhibitions."

The new Ando building will serve four major programmatic goals for the Clark: it enables major upgrades to the museum's permanent collection galleries; increases the classroom, research, and conference facilities; provides expanded galleries for special exhibitions; and creates a visitor orientation center with improved amenities. More broadly, Ando's design emphasizes the Clark's unique art-in-nature experience, and by changing the orientation of the Clark's campus will strengthen its connections to the landscape and continue the Institute's tradition of preserving its 140-acre site. This includes reducing the overall "footprint" of the buildings above ground, providing better recreational access to the surrounding land, and improving the landscape that surrounds the buildings, drives, and parking areas. At the heart of the site will be a new, one-and-a-half acre reflecting pool adjacent to all three buildings, which will provide a central, unifying point for the landscape and the campus as a whole.

The Clark also announced its intentions to build another facility on a second site in Williamstown, most likely a parcel of land on Route 7 between Sweetwood Continuing Care Facility and Mt. Greylock Regional High School. The second campus will include a new home for the Williamstown Art Conservation Center, public exhibition and visitor orientation space, and art storage for the Clark, along with public access to the spectacular views of Mt. Greylock. The new campus is the result of a partnership with Northern Berkshire Health Systems, and construction on the first stage of the project is expected to begin in 2004.

"After several years of careful planning and extended public consultation, we embark now on what is surely a tremendous undertaking," said Francis Oakley, president of the Clark. "To Williamstown we will bring a beautiful building; to the region and the international community of art scholarship we will bring expanded services; to art lovers near and far we will provide a dramatically enhanced experience. And we will do so while respecting the fine qualities of our original facility and remaining true to our long tradition of stewardship of our splendid natural setting. We approach the task ahead of us with confidence, determination, and pride."

Expansion at the Clark's Home Campus

The new Ando building on the Stone Hill campus will serve as the Visitor, Graduate & Conference Center, which will include 11,500 square feet of gallery space devoted to special exhibitions, an increase of 50% over the Clark's existing facilities. The added space will allow the Institute to present larger and more in-depth exhibitions. The new galleries will feature natural light, and higher ceilings to accommodate the large-scale works of arts, such as historical paintings, that it has been difficult to exhibit previously. A new full service restaurant and a more casual café with the option for outdoor seating will be built, along with a new bookstore and gift shop.

The Center will also include new space for the Clark's important research and academic programs. The Williams College/Clark Art Institute Graduate Program in the History of Art will move into the new facility, which provides increased space for classes and research. The Conference Center will also include two large meeting rooms and a lecture hall with state-of-the-art video conferencing and media capabilities - greatly improving the Institute's ability to organize or host other symposia and conferences.

More than 75% of the new Ando building (63,200 square feet) will be below ground, yet Ando's design allows for significant natural light, by including courtyards and light wells at the lower level. Significantly, the amount of above-ground building on the campus will not increase, since an existing 16,449 square foot service building, erected in 1965, will be demolished along with a temporary garage structure added in 1999, to make room for this expansion and to improve the buildings' integration with the natural landscape. The above ground portion of the new visitor, graduate, and conference center will measure 15,668 square feet.

"The fact that we are removing a building in order to expand indicates the commitment we have to the preservation of our landscape," said Conforti. "Rather than put up a building here and a building there in response to short term needs, we wanted to be sure to create a plan for long term, future growth that would stay true to the beauty of the site and enhance the sense that all structures on the campus are part of one whole experience."

The Ando building will be a two-story rectangular structure of glass, with an outdoor terrace overlooking the new reflecting pool, and belowgrade courtyards. Located to the northwest of the Clark's original white marble building, the building will incorporate glass and granite, and will be open to views of the landscape on all floors. Visitors will enter the pavilion from a path set along a stone wall, which will both direct them clearly to the entrance and build anticipation for the views of the campus that will be revealed as they approach.

The design consists of three rectangular elements united by a wall that extends both above and below ground. This wall will be clad in the same type of red granite that is seen on the Clark's library and office building from 1973, and will visually integrate all the buildings on campus, helping visitors orient themselves both indoors and out.

Enhancements to the Clark's Existing Buildings

A centerpiece of the expansion and campus enhancement is the reaffirmation of the original 1955 white marble building as central to the visitor experience. Designed by the late Daniel Perry under founder Sterling Clark's close supervision, the building is a neo-classical "temple of art," with intimate galleries. Ando has designed a 2,700 square foot transparent glass foyer, which will serve as a new West entrance to the 1955 building. The new Ando addition complements the original structure, while its scale will create a sense of grandeur in keeping with the original building's style.

Portions of the white marble building will be renovated to provide an additional 6,380 square feet of new galleries for the Clark's growing permanent collection, an increase of 40 percent over the existing facilities. The galleries will provide much needed space for the 19th-century American paintings, including works by Homer, Sargent, and Remington, collected by Sterling and Francine Clark as well as for recently acquired collections of American furniture and silver. The three galleries built to the west of the Clark's Impressionist gallery will mirror the interior architecture and décor of the existing galleries. These new galleries will be created by reclaiming spaces that are currently used for storage, offices, and service equipment and by a 3,000 square foot, two- story addition to the South.

"Our visitors will once again experience a grand entry into the marble 'temple,' a feeling that was lost when the red granite addition was built in 1973 and the original entrance was closed," said Conforti. "The Ando design restores the beloved first museum building to the prominence it deserves, while the renovation of the permanent collection galleries reinforces the intimate feel of the Clark's collection in a beautiful building and a bucolic setting."

The plan will also recapture additional spaces on the lower level that were originally used as galleries when the museum first opened but were subsequently converted to storage. These renovated galleries will make it possible to display parts of the Clark's collection of prints, drawings, photographs, and decorative arts, which have been exhibited only rarely and are usually accessible to the public by appointment only. This level will also include restrooms and a new telephone/lounge area. All galleries and facilities will be fully accessible.

Also included in the design will be renovations to the 1973 red granite building. Space that is currently used for special exhibition galleries will be reallocated to accommodate the growing needs of the Clark's extensive art history research library. A new print study center and rare book room are planned for space off of the main courtyard. The 320-seat Auditorium will continue to be used for large lectures and concerts.

Reflecting Pool and Landscape Enhancements

One of the most dramatic features of the design will be the one-and-a-half acre reflecting pool to the south of the new building, which will be visible from all three buildings and provide a central, unifying point for the whole campus. The four-inch deep pool will be a cool spot for visitors in the summer, and in the winter will be frozen for ice skating, adding another outdoor activity for the community.

The existing walking trails on Stone Hill will be preserved, connecting to the network of trails maintained by the Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation. Pedestrian access to the trails and to the Stone Hill meadow will be improved by footbridges over marshy areas and streams.

Landscape architects Reed Hilderbrand Associates' approach to the project has taken into account the cultural history of the site as well as its views, character, and wetlands. The plan for the landscape portion of the project will enable the Clark to continue to manage the woodlands and fields for diversity and augment the site's beauty and pristine qualities.

In order to improve the visitor's experience of arriving at the Institute, the campus plan will reroute entering traffic to a new drive to the north of the current entrance instead of between two buildings. A canopy of trees along the drive and throughout the parking areas will preserve the pastoral feeling of the site. Overflow parking during peak summer weekends will be provided in an unobtrusive lot to the southeast of the campus.

"While providing much needed parking, the new plan will actually make the campus look less paved than it does now, improving the overall effect of visiting this unique art-in-nature experience. At the same time, people will have a clear sense that they are making a grand entrance, with the white marble building clearly in view as they approach," said Conforti.

The Clark

The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute is one of the country's foremost art museums and also a dynamic center for research and higher education in art history and criticism. The Clark's exceptional collections of Old Master, Impressionist, and 19th-century American art on display in the museum's intimate galleries are enhanced by the beauty of its 140-acre setting in the Berkshires.

The Clark regularly organizes significant special exhibitions, often in partnership with leading American and European institutions, which generate popular interest in the arts while advancing critical thought. Currently on view through May 11, 2003 is Renoir and Algeria, the first exhibition devoted to the influence of the artist's North African visits. This summer the Clark will present Turner: The Late Seascapes, on view June 14 - September 7, 2003, which has been organized by the Clark and the Manchester City Galleries, Manchester, U.K., and will explore Turner's lifelong fascination with the sea through some 40 oil paintings and watercolors. Other upcoming exhibitions include Edouard Baldus: Landscape and Leisure in Early French Photography (Fall 2003) and Jacques-Louis David: Empire and Exile (Summer 2005).

The Institute is one of only a few art museums in the U.S. that is also a major research and academic center, with an international fellowship program and regular conferences, symposia, and colloquia, and an important art research library. The Clark, together with Williams College, jointly sponsors one of the nation's leading M.A. programs in art history and encompasses one of the most comprehensive art history libraries in the world. Its Fellows and conference programs draw university and museum professionals from around the world.

The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute is located at 225 South Street in Williamstown, Massachusetts. The galleries are open Tuesday through Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Gallery admission is free through May. For more information call 413-458-2303 or visit

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