The Frick's More Certain Future

 John Hill
5. April 2018
Image: Selldorf Architects
The Frick Collection has unveiled the design by Selldorf Architects for the expansion and enhancement of the institution's Upper East Side landmark.
The Frick's home was designed by Carrère and Hastings in 1914 as a private home for industrialist Henry Clay Frick, who amassed a sizable art collection before he died in 1919. His home was transformed into a public museum in 1935, when a seven-story library was added by architect John Russell Pope and a garden was added by landscape designer Ruseell Page.

According to the Frick's announcement of Selldorf's renovation and expansion plans, 1935 was the last time the institution expanded in any major way. In 2011, the Frick opened The Portico Gallery for Decorative Arts and Sculpture, a small, 815-sf former loggia enclosed by Davis Brody Bond. The same architects tried three years later to expand The Frick, proposing an addition that would have demolished Page's garden.
Reception Hall, looking toward the garden (Image: Selldorf Architects)
Critics and preservationists successfully opposed The Frick's 2014 plan, paving the way for the latest attempt by Selldorf Architects (per the New York Times, The Frick also tried to expand in 2001, 2005 and 2008). Selldorf's plan retains the gardens, repurposes 60,000 square feet of space and adds 27,000 square feet of new construction, some of it (including a 220-seat auditorium) underground, beneath the garden.

Beyond the auditorium, highlights of the expansion plan include The Frick's first education center, the transformation of original residence rooms on the second floor into galleries, and ADA accessibility throughout the museum and library. Selldforf's expansion will top out at seven stories, matching Pope's 1935 library.
Reception Hall, with garden on the right (Image: Selldorf Architects)
The Frick needs to acquire Landmarks Preservation Commission approval and is, per the Times, meeting with around 75 community organizations before moving forward with construction. With the garden preserved on this pass, the institution is hoping for the best and planning to break ground in 2020.

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