Clark Unveils New Campus BuildingWilliamstown - The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute unveiled Pritzker-Prize-winning architect Tadao Ando's design for a new Clark campus building on Aug. 12.
Clad in wood, the 32,000 square-foot facility will house new, intimately scaled galleries, a meeting and studio art classroom, a terrace, an outdoor café, and the Williamstown Art Conservation Center (WACC).
Located on the wooded hillside along Old Stone Hill Road, the building will reinforce the Clark's unique standing as the only major art museum in the world located in a dramatic rural setting. The new galleries will present exhibitions of 20th-century and non-Western art, expanding the reach of the Clark's current exhibition programs.
The new building is the first step in the Clark's overall campus expansion announced in 2003. The estimated cost of the building is $20 million. Groundbreaking will begin in spring 2006, and the building will open to the public in summer 2008. The expansion project will provide much-needed space for the Institute's special exhibitions, and research and academic programs, and will enhance the way visitors experience both art and the beautiful surroundings.
Permits In Place
In April of this year, the Williamstown Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals reviewed the project, approved the development plans, and granted the necessary special permit. In addition, the Williamstown Conservation Commission reviewed the project for compliance with the Wetlands Protection Act and issued an order allowing it to proceed.
"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. "Ando's sensitivity to landscape will unite the Clark campus with a coordinated vision. The woodland galleries and integration of this site with existing trails will enhance the contemplative experience visitors and scholars have exploring art in nature at the Clark."
About the Building
The building has been designed to take advantage of the natural slope of the site and the dramatic views to the north, east, and west. While it will be a two-story building, only one level is visible above ground from the main entry to the south. It is open to the landscape on all sides and a large terrace provides spectacular panoramic views of the Green Mountains and Taconic Range. Large expanses of glass capture the much-needed northern light for the conservators and also allow for visitors to view into the studio spaces.
Landscape architects Reed Hilderbrand Associates, of Watertown, Mass., are working closely with Ando on the campus enhancement. The new facility will be located approximately 1,000 feet to the south of the Clark's 1973 red granite building and 100 feet from the Buxton School property line, near Old Stone Hill Road. The level area, about one third of the way up the hill, was a farm field as recently as the 1950s. The meadow and crest of Stone Hill, a well-known feature of the Clark's campus, will remain untouched, and the Clark will maintain and add to the walking and hiking trails there.
A country drive will connect the new building to the main campus. In addition, visitors can walk to the facility on two scenic trails, which will be integrated into the system of already well-used trails on the hill. Visitors and local residents who hike, ski, and snowshoe on Stone Hill may also use the new lot for parking. The large terrace will be open year-round and will also be used as an outdoor café in the summer and for occasional special events. In addition, space surrounding the building will be ideal for outdoor sculpture installations.
Celebrating 50 years of art in nature in 2005-2006, the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute is among 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 its dramatic 140-acre setting in the Berkshires. The Clark organizes special exhibitions in collaboration with leading museums in the United States and Europe. These exhibitions advance the public understanding of art by presenting new scholarship and challenging ideas in popular and visually appealing ways. Upcoming exhibitions include Winslow Homer: Marking Art, Making History (Fall 2005) and The Clark Brothers Collect Renoir to Matisse, Homer to Hopper (Summer 2006).
The Clark offers a range of public education and community programs that actively engage people of all ages and backgrounds. In addition to providing free gallery and classroom programs to schools, the Clark fully funds transportation costs for any school group that can travel to Williamstown by bus in one day. The Clark presents an annual family festival each summer as well as indoor family programs throughout the year, engaging children and adults alike in the arts through educational activities, entertainment, and hands-on experiences related to special exhibitions and the collection. Adult education includes art history courses for the public and for the Berkshire Institute of Lifelong Learning.
Frequent gallery talks enhance the experience of the collections, including regular talks for new mothers with infants and monthly talks for working people on their lunch hour. As an authoritative voice of the visual arts in the region, the Clark offers free public lectures on special exhibitions, the collection, and other topics. The Clark also presents films as well as chamber, folk, and world music concerts. Local organizations often present programs in the Clark's auditorium.
The Clark is one of only a few art museums in the United States 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.
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