First Look at OMA's New Museum Addition

John Hill
26. June 2019
Looking north along the Bowery (Image: OMA/Bloomimages.de) 

The New Museum has unveiled the design by OMA partners Rem Koolhaas and Shohei Shigematsu for the addition to the museum's iconic 12-year-old building in New York City designed by SANAA.

The reveal of the design comes about a year and a half after the announcement that OMA's Koolhaas and Shigematsu, rather than SANAA's Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa, would design the New Museum expansion on the Bowery. In that time, we've had to wait and wonder what the OMA design would look like and how it would relate to SANAA's "bento boxes."

The renderings show a design that is somewhat deferential: lower than its predecessor and set back from the street. The base of the seven-story, 60,000-square-foot building folds up and out to meet the older building at the top edge of one of its boxes. From here it angles back sharply to its high point, which appears to sit behind the massing of the SANAA building. As the rendering below shows, the new glass and metal mesh facade will combine with the aluminum mesh facade of its predecessor to create a contemporary terminus on Prince Street.

Looking east from Prince Street (Image: OMA/Bloomimages.de)

The stacking diagram (below) reveals how the sculptural form of OMA's design is not arbitrary; it arises from circulation: an elevator and atrium stair at the front, and elevator and fire stairs at the rear. In between are three floors of galleries, which will double the museum's exhibition space to just over 20,000 square feet. The galleries sit above the street-level lobby and below three floors serving NEW INC (a cultural incubator), multi-purpose space, and mechanical.

Connected to the SANAA building seamlessly on its three gallery levels, the OMA expansion is meant to improve the overall circulation and experience of visiting the museum. Shigematsu describes the two buildings as "a synergistic pair working spatially and programmatically in tandem, offering a repertoire of spaces to match the institution’s curatorial ambitions and diverse programs."

Exploded diagram showing stacking and circulation (Drawing: OMA)

The new building, which will be named for New Museum trustee Toby Devan Lewis, is expected to start construction next year and open in 2022, with the current building remaining open during most of the two-year construction. Working alongside OMA as architect of record is Cooper Robertson.

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