View Full Version : Brooklyn Museum of Art - Entry and Plaza - by Polshek Partnership Architects

April 16th, 2003, 02:30 PM
Brooklyn Museum of Art renovations, by James Stewart Polshek:


More pictures at the website: here (http://www.brooklynmuseum.org/info/renovation).

May 14th, 2003, 08:56 AM
'The design concept for the front entrance took its inspiration from the semicircular staircase originally planned by McKim, Mead and White for an east entrance to the building that was never built. *This curved form, with its radius springing from the middle of the central building section, allows the front entrance to be oriented in all directions as a universally welcoming gesture,' comments Arata Isozaki.

May 14th, 2003, 10:14 AM
I think it is going to be a beautiful addition and give the museum an entrance worthy of its reputation.

TLOZ Link5
May 14th, 2003, 07:24 PM
Architecture is truly returning to New York.

May 14th, 2003, 08:45 PM
I wonder how many of these projects will be realized though. There's already been several casualties.

May 14th, 2003, 09:45 PM
This one, at least, is nearing completion.

July 1st, 2003, 11:04 AM
Brooklyn Museum of Art
Entry Pavilion and Plaza

Brooklyn, New York
34,000 square feet
Projected Completion: 2004

This latest phase of ongoing work at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, a new entry and the redesign of the Eastern Parkway Plaza, achieves the reintegration of the building with its site. With the removal of the grand stair in the 1930s, the entrance to the Museum was shifted to grade level, and the original entry sequence lost. In order to welcome visitors and provide a communal space for its neighborhood, a significant transformation has been designed to introduce a new lobby and entry sequence, as well as new public plaza and outdoor exhibition and performance areas. When complete, this expansion will create a distinctive and inviting identity for the Museum and enhance its relationship with its community as well as with visitors. The glass addition combines the Beaux-Arts traditions of the original building with a clearly modern and transparent structure to further underscore the building's accessibility.



January 31st, 2004, 12:25 AM

April 5th, 2004, 11:42 AM
New York Daily News - http://www.nydailynews.com

Museum redo is work of art

Sunday, April 4th, 2004

Wait'll you see what they did to the Brooklyn Museum. Hardhat plunked on her head, Joan Darragh, vice president of the museum's office of planning and architecture, leads me through the back door on a $2 tour of a $63 million reconstruction job.

The project includes a new lobby, a multistoried new front entrance pavilion and a breathtaking public plaza with dancing-water fountains, cherry trees and a "front stoop" of public seating, all of it extending a common-people-friendly welcome mat to the borough of Brooklyn.

Darragh yanks open a door, and suddenly we're echoing through the sweeping, still-under-construction 9,000-square-foot lobby, boasting five archways that offer unobstructed views through a brand-new 15,000-square-foot sheer-glass pavilion that leads into an 80,000-square-foot plaza and the tireless rumbling frenzy of Eastern Parkway.

A dozen support piers have been exposed to the original bare brick, a new visitor's center has been built and the whole well-lighted entrance to the museum is now some 25,000 square feet - three times the size of the gloomy original.

"We've also built the best ladies' room on Earth," says Darragh, a gleam in her eye that her 20-year dream for this phase of the museum renovation, designed by Polshek Partnership Architects and built by Bovis Construction, will at long last be finished by what seems like an insane deadline of April 14.

Darragh splashes into the flooded ladies' room, where she brags about the 11 stalls.

"Women hate ladies' room lines," she says, showing off the diaper-changing area, and consulting with head plumber Vinny Impallomeni and construction manager Bill Allan about the arrival of new sinks.

"When they were building the stalls, I sat on the toilet and told them where to put the toilet paper dispenser," she says with a laugh. "Believe me, this is important stuff."

Back out in the grand lobby, Darragh points out the coat-check room, where the electronic information cone will be displayed, and then she cranes her head back and takes a deep breath as she sweeps her hand across the front porticos, a woman showing off her dream house.

Mixing old and new

'The brick support piers offer a sense of strength and might, a combination of the old mixed with the new," she says. "We removed the 4-foot-thick bearing walls, replacing them with steel beams, and it just blew the place open, with a clear view right out into the plaza and the street, and vice versa, like we're connected to the community. We want people to experience the museum in a contemporary way, while celebrating its historical facade."

Darragh says there are three high schools in the vicinity, and when those kids walk past, she wants them to look in through the crystal-clear, iron-free glass pavilion and see people.

"We want them to see more than another public building," she says. "We want it to look exciting and fun. We want them to come in."

This desire to reconnect to the borough is probably why the "of Art," which had been pompously added in 1997, has been loped off and buried beneath the reconstruction debris of what is again just The Brooklyn Museum.

"For some reason, the 'of Art' just never caught on," says Sally Williams, a spokeswoman for the museum, adding that director Arnold Lehman believes the original name "had a clarity that communicated more concisely and directly to our public."

In Brooklyn, where less is more, it had been like renaming our beach Coney Island by the Sea. (News Flash: It also drove newspaper editors nuts.)

Darragh leads me from the grand lobby, across the pavilion and into the public plaza. Backhoes dig, power saws roar, electric drills whine and workmen scrimmage the plaza carrying beams and pipe on a job that was funded by the city's Department of Cultural Affairs and the Friends and Trustees of the Brooklyn Museum. It got underway in 2001 and is now crushed against the hard two-week deadline.

"Our director, Arnold Lehman, says that when people come up from the newly renovated Eastern Parkway subway entrance, he wants them to be rewarded for making the trip to the museum," Darragh says, pointing to the subway entrance. "So the MTA was kind enough to reconfigure the subway entrance to face the plaza when people exit. And here's what they'll see."

She points to two computer-controlled fountains conceived by WET Design, which did the fountains of the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas. On special occasions, they can shoot water as high as the 60-foot roof. The old, underused plaza will now have flourishing cherry trees, verdant lawns and other plantings.

Rising from the plaza is the new "front stoop" (stoops have always been very important business in Brooklyn, the word deriving from the Dutch "stoep") of wide, graded steps with Brazilian ipe-wood walkways that Darragh says she chose because they "sound like you're walking on the Coney Island Boardwalk."

The museum will stage some programming here and will serve as a place where people can sit and read and gab on a sunny day overlooking Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux's grand boulevard, for which they coined the word "parkway."

When I was a kid, my mother taught us that if we ever got lost in Prospect Park to look around for the "bald man's head" that was the dome of the Brooklyn Museum and we'd find our bearings. That same dome has been a cultural North Star for countless millions of other Brooklynites since it was first designed by McKim, Mead and White in 1897. Within its 562,000 square feet is the nation's second largest art collection.

Bigger and better

This new and exciting renovation will only make the Brooklyn Museum bigger and better and more alluring than ever - a more people-friendly place that is filled with light and art and culture that helps make order of the chaos of life in the big city.

And so it's fitting that when the new doors open, one of the first shows will be "Open House: Working in Brooklyn," featuring 300 works by 200 Brooklyn artists.

If you haven't been to the Brooklyn Museum lately, you gotta check it out. And the best part is that the price couldn't be better. The first weekend - Saturday, April 17, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Sunday, April 18, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. - is free.

Just wait'll you see what they did.

April 12th, 2004, 01:44 PM

April 12th, 2004, 02:31 PM

TLOZ Link5
April 12th, 2004, 03:55 PM
It would be nice if they converted the portico outside the main entrance into a café or other outdoor space.

April 15th, 2004, 05:11 PM
April 15, 2004

A museum for the people


Slide Show: Brooklyn Museum of Art (http://www.nynewsday.com/news/local/brooklyn/nyc-brookphotos0416,0,3981980.photogallery?coll=nyc-swapbox-homepage)

The Brooklyn Museum has burst exuberantly out of its limestone shell, cascading in ripples of glass toward Eastern Parkway. Ever since Arnold Lehman took over as its director in 1997, the restless, populist museum has seemed constrained by its austere Beaux Arts container. Now, where five heavy bronze doors once allowed grudging access, a new transparent entranceway beckons to the neighborhood and the world beyond.

"We want this to be the most visitor-centered, visitor-welcoming museum in the city," said an effervescent Lehman. "We want that to take a tangible form." Bustling around the site a few days before construction workers decamped, a hard hat wobbling above his brow, the director speed-talked about what $63 million had bought: a glass-enclosed lobby surmounted by a public catwalk, a grassy outdoor plaza for sunning and schmoozing, a terraced boardwalk that he calls "Brooklyn's front stoop" and a Vegas-style fountain with computer-controlled jets of water that dance to a silent beat.

The whole thing opens April 16 with a members-only soiree, followed by a weekend- long block party with free admission, extended hours, marching bands, dancers and a host of free performances. The fairgrounds-style festival is in keeping with the museum's intensely local mission.

"We love having tourists, but our first obligation is to the neighborhood," Lehman said. "We want people to come here and feel that they share a more inviting, personal experience."

No ivory tower

Lehman's anti-ivory-tower approach is tempered by the elegance and poise of the new entrance, designed by a team, led by James Polshek, that negotiates the passage between 19th century classicism and the theatrical aspirations of the 21st century museum world.

Polshek's firm has a resume larded with additions to New York City cultural landmarks: the Rose Center planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History; Zankel Hall, the new auditorium underneath Carnegie Hall, and the Manhattan Theatre Club's renovated Biltmore Theatre on Broadway. Few architects understand better how to translate the venerable into the spectacular.

When the Brooklyn Museum was designed in 1893, it was intended to be six times larger than it is. McKim, Mead & White's grandiose master plan for it was truncated by the 1898 merger between the cities of Brooklyn and New York, which siphoned ambitions and funds to the other side of the East River.

While the current structure isn't any bigger, its new face represents not just an institutional rebirth but also a full- blown Brooklyn Renaissance. A cultural district is gradually coalescing around the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and if developer Bruce Ratner and his grassroots opponents can ever work out their differences, a basketball arena designed by Frank Gehry might rise on Atlantic Avenue.

One revamping failed

This isn't the first time the Brooklyn Museum has tried to revamp its image. In 1934, the grand staircase from the sidewalk to the third-floor lobby was dismantled, bringing the entrance down to street level. This early attempt at populism was a dismal failure.

"The plaza was a deadly place," Polshek said in a phone interview. "The eastern part was sunless; there was nothing on it. What we've done is to make it as user-friendly as possible, to provide as many opportunities as we could, but at the same time, keep the whole composition dignified and respectful."

Every detail of the design interprets Lehman's notion of the gregarious museum. The entrance canopy violates the scrupulous symmetry of the facade, instead offering a sideways salute to a gorgeously refurbished subway station, encrusted with pieces from the museum's collection of decorative sculptures rescued from demolished buildings.

Polshek's glass half-cupola, which floods the interior with sunlight, recalls the glass pyramid set in the courtyard of the Louvre Museum in Paris by his former boss, I.M. Pei. But where Pei's pyramid is angular, cool and self-contained, Polshek caps his portal with a spiked crown suspended by cables, a shorthand synthesis of the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge.

This is a work in motion, filled with references to the architecture of transportation. The designers drew inspiration from the soaring iron-and-glass sheds that sheltered the train quays in McKim, Mead & White's old Penn Station. The angled steel masts recall both Brooklyn's naval past and the dynamic bridges and stations designed by Polshek's peer Santiago Calatrava.

A destination -- and more

All these allusions to travel imply that the museum is both a destination and a point of departure. The form of transportation on which the new addition focuses most concretely is foot traffic. The pedestrian avenue that leads into the hemisphere's brilliant embrace also channels people up and around the facade: along a stainless- steel staircase, across a catwalk and into an informal amphitheater surfaced in wood planks. This stoop, Lehman said, evokes the boardwalk at Coney Island or the Promenade in Brooklyn Heights.

Polshek's plaza and lobby strike a balance between preservation and transformation. The dome is stepped in glass risers, like ghostly traces of the vanished grand staircase. Today's visitors can simply amble down the plaza's gentle pitch into the ground-level entrance. Once inside the glass membrane, the original limestone temple-front looms through the transparent ceiling like an artifact in an exhibition case.

It is surely this ever-present piece of the past that persuaded the Landmarks Commission to approve Polshek's radical intervention with uncharacteristic unanimity. At ground level, the veneer of masonry disappears, revealing the raw brick barrel vaults beneath, so the entrance has a distinctly post-industrial -- and very Brooklynite -- combination of proletarian brick, shiny steel and virtually invisible glass.

If the new exterior represents the architectural manifesto of a populist museum trapped in the body of an august institution, the real work of reinvention has been going on inside. "We've created a receptacle that will make it possible to do all sorts of crazy things -- and dignified things," Polshek said.

Reinstalling the collection

For several years, in the decorous galleries beyond the new lobby, curators have been reinstalling the collection, department by department, trying to achieve a balance between seriousness and pizzazz. A year ago, the museum reorganized its Egyptian collection, one of the most important in the world, hauling works out of storage and arranging some in chronological order, others in thematic groups.

Lehman does not rely on art to articulate its own appeal. Instead, he places enormous faith in the exhibition designer's ability to make objects speak by surrounding them with boldly painted walls, videos, interactive computer screens and wall texts in English and Spanish. The most recent makeover wrought by the museum's chief designer, Matthew Yokobosky, is the Hall of the Americas, which reopens this weekend with objects that have been mostly out of sight for the past three years.

The colonnaded court is now awash in purple, midnight blue, gold and orange. Each column sports a polychrome coat of paint and the walls are splashed with murals evoking an assortment of Indian tribes. As the eye pans across the gallery, it travels from brilliant sunrise at one end to dusk at the other. No dusty dioramas here; in Brooklyn, American Indian artifacts perform in a set piece of extravagant theater.

In keeping with its good-neighbor policy, the museum is also mounting "Open House: Working in Brooklyn," a showcase of 200 local artists. This is not the museum's first foray into the borough's artistic thickets, but it is by far the most ambitious. "The scope of the show reflects the commitment of the museum to Brooklyn's art scene and the growth of the art scene itself," said Charlotta Kotik, chief curator for contemporary art. The museum has had the good sense to recognize that, as an established institution in a burgeoning borough, it can serve as both receptacle and catalyst.

To put together "Open House," Kotik and her assistant curator, Tumelo Mosaka, trooped around to hundreds of studios in Red Hook, Greenpoint, Williamsburg, DUMBO, Bedford Stuyvesant and Sunset Park, often guided by artists who recommended each other. Mosaka pointed out that, unlike Manhattan, Brooklyn really does have a community of artists, rather than an agglomeration of isolated egos. Their camaraderie reinforces the sense of the Brooklyn Museum as a neighborhood fixture, fostering the borough's creativity and attracting a walk-in crowd.

While Lehman has encouraged -- make that ordered -- the curators to act locally, Polshek clearly has the more magniloquent ambitions of the late 1800s in mind. No amount of right-thinking liberalism could turn the limestone temple on Eastern Parkway into a jolly community center, and the architects didn't try. Instead, they crafted a new sort of monument, a weightless antechamber leading from the street to the sanctum and introducing the present to the past.

Copyright 2004 Newsday, Inc.

April 15th, 2004, 08:55 PM
April 16, 2004


Brooklyn's Radiant New Art Palace


Discovering a new public space: Brooklyn Museum's sweeping new entrance pavilion resembles a cascade, with steps of glass spilling down to a landscaped plaza.

Inside the Brooklyn Museum's new entrance pavilion, which was designed by James Stewart Polshek.

http://graphics7.nytimes.com/packages/images/arts/20040416_MUSEUM_AUDIOSS/cul_MUSEUM_promo_184a.gif (http://www.nytimes.com/packages/khtml/2004/04/16/arts/20040416_MUSEUM_AUDIOSS.html)

Panoramic Image: Outside the New Brooklyn Museum (http://www.nytimes.com/packages/html/arts/20040416_MUSEUM_AUDIOSS/index_PANO_O2.html)

Panoramic Image: The Interior of the New Brooklyn Museum (http://www.nytimes.com/packages/html/arts/20040416_MUSEUM_AUDIOSS/index_PANO_O1.html)

LATERAL growth — the social transformation of New York beyond Manhattan — is likely to be the most important urban development in the city for the foreseeable future. This weekend, a milestone in that development will be reached. With the completion of the Brooklyn Museum's new entrance pavilion, the city has gained one of the most attractive public spaces to be found anywhere in town. It will be fascinating to watch as the neighborhood discovers how to use it.

This building makes its own splash. New York is not a great town for fountains, but it has just come by a spectacular one. Created by WET Design, which is based in Southern California, the new fountain is the apotheosis of that delightful bygone genre of the department stores, dancing waters. Come for the fountain. You might even stay for the art.

The entire sweeping pavilion, designed by James Stewart Polshek of Polshek Partnership Architects, resembles a cascade, actually, with steps of glass instead of water spilling down. The design is not flawless. The brushed satin finish of the addition's steel framework dulls the impact of a structure that ought to pop you in the eye. But the project is more nuanced than Mr. Polshek's other recent addition to a landmark Beaux Arts building, the Rose Center for Earth and Space at the American Museum of Natural History. The pavilion, which officially opens tomorrow, has got a precise if not wildly imaginative grip on its place in urban history.

That is not intended as faint praise. Because Mr. Polshek adheres to the view that architecture is best spoken in a vernacular dialect, his work is destined to be undersung. But the Brooklyn design makes a good argument for the validity of that view. The McKim, Mead & White museum itself, opened in 1897, embodies the Beaux Arts conception of classicism as a common tongue. Mr. Polshek gives form to that idea's 20th-century descendant, the adoption of engineering as the basis of a vernacular style.

The juxtaposition of these vocabularies is a history lesson, in other words, and a literally revealing one. The McKim, Mead & White building is a steel frame structure, not the masonry monument it appears to be. And this discrepancy, or rather the lack of integrity it was once thought to symbolize, became the ethical rationale for a modern aesthetic Mr. Polshek continues to embrace. The design's sensitivity to its surroundings, however, is uniquely his.

Four out of five Beaux Arts buildings prefer a symmetrical setting. The Brooklyn Museum is the fifth. Washington Avenue slices the site into an irregular shape. The new design turns the irregularity into a strength. It mediates between the classical formality of the museum's facade and the agreeably disordered cityscape. Deference is the design's keynote. It takes its scale from the McKim, Mead & White central portico.

The project breaks down into a three-part sequence, though the parts happily blur together into a flowing threshold condition. The plaza in front of the building has been entirely reconstructed, with impeccable landscape design by Judith Heintz Landscape Architecture.

The plaza now resembles a semicircle of concentric arcs radiating outward from the portico. The entrance proper, marked by a glass canopy supported by cables attached to four metal masts, has been shifted to the portico's right side. It is approached along a paved, wedge-shaped promenade that narrows as it stretches toward the facade from the Eastern Parkway/Brooklyn Museum subway stop. (A newly remodeled station is part of the design.)

The stepped roof of the pavilion fills in an area once occupied by a vertiginously high monumental staircase. Removed in 1939, the ceremonial flight was double the height of the stairs at the Metropolitan Museum of Art or at the American Museum of Natural History. Hello up there! The exaggerated altitude will remind the historically minded that the Brooklyn Museum was originally intended to be six times the size of the present institution. That was before Brooklyn was annexed into New York City, and before the federal income tax dealt a death blow to Gilded Age excess.

The Polshek design has its own grandeur, however. Those looking for a monumental stoop to perch on will be handsomely accommodated by rows of seating that ascend in a broad arc along the left side of the pavilion. Intended as an amphitheater for outdoor concerts and other performances, this concrete riser provides the ideal vantage point for gazing at that magnificent fountain.

The Gilded Age produced nothing like this aquatic show. Water gushing from a row of concealed jets can be manipulated into different heights and configurations, from low gurgle to Old Faithful. The fountain gets it about gravity. Rising up in pulses, the water seems to hang in the air, as if captured by strobe photography, before crashing to the ground in a percussive, drenching splash.

To enter the pavilion, you can cross over the roof, on a curving elevated passerelle, or walk back across the plaza to the paved promenade. Three revolving doors spin visitors into the new structure's interior, which is potentially the best new public space New York has seen in years. In effect a winter garden, or orangerie, this is crystal palace architecture. It descends from the same Victorian moment that produced the recycling of period styles.

A trick of scale helps account for the delight. From the outside, seen in relationship to the facade, the pavilion appears to hug the ground. Inside, it soars. And the semicircular shape gives the space a dynamic horizontal sweep. Cafe tables and chairs are promised. Trees should be tall and plentiful, the Wi-Fi reliable, the coffee hot. If this is dumbing-down, I'm all for it. But it looks to me like civilized pleasure.

From the pavilion, visitors progress into the museum lobby through a striking brick colonnade. Four massive square columns are in fact the pedestals for the properly dressed Ionic columns of the portico above. The brick itself is the fire-proofing for the steel structure that supports the entire building.

The robust, archaeological look of the exposed brick columns and walls conveys the primitive impression that the architect Aldo Rossi aimed for but seldom achieved. Except for the thickness of the bricks, this could be an excavated portion of the Aurelian Wall. The effect reinforces and enriches the classicism of the original design.

Then you're in. Four fat white columns define a tall, neutral space with an information desk and coat check. Beyond is the entrance for school buses. A modulated but unbroken flow of space extends from the subway through the building and out the other side: the design amplifies access.

Access should not become a dirty word. It is the concept that culture revolves around today, according to the social critic Jeremy Rifkin. In this sense Polshek's design is as vibrantly contemporary as the most flamboyantly Baroque museum architecture of our time.

Access is a Baroque idea, actually: think of St. Peter's Square. No movement was more populist, and it changed the way Romans and others thought about and used their cities. The influence of that inclusive impulse is felt today.

On a recent visit to the Brooklyn Museum, I had a sudden flash of the impromptu outdoor cinemas that Romans set up in the summer, with makeshift screens and folding chairs. Let's book "Three Coins in the Fountain" for Brooklyn's new amphitheater, and make a wish for free headphones, for the neighbors' sake.

Dancing waters in the new fountain.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

Brooklyn Museum Seeks an Audience (http://forums.wirednewyork.com/viewtopic.php?p=32808)

April 17th, 2004, 10:54 PM




April 21st, 2004, 09:09 AM


April 21st, 2004, 03:32 PM
The photos by Edward capture the enthusiasm and celebration I witnessed last Saturday. The entire museum site, from the outdoor plaza to the interior galleries, was flooded with people representing every "flavor" of Brooklyn. The Museum would be wise to capitalize on this outstanding response with diverse programming and activities that appeal to families, young adults, and seniors. Curiosity drew me to the museum on Saturday, and sheer delight kept me there.

April 21st, 2004, 06:25 PM
:shock: I want to go! I want to go! I want to go!

April 21st, 2004, 10:50 PM

The awe-inspiring traffic allowed for some pictures from the street.

Crowd and plaza:








From the balcony above the new entrance

Lawn and plaza


Buildings on Eastern Parkway


Looking over the balconies/steps leading to the main balcony; these steps are meant for sitting and are quite comfortable (for wood). The fountains are the main focus here.

Kiddies enjoying the wetness in a lull in the water show. There's still some construction behind them.


Towards Eastern Parkway


Ground level with amused individuals of all ages (and the infamous smudge, which should be corrected within 2 weeks)



The main face of the building itself



Portico with smudge






The new entrance (exterior only, sorry)


Original brick supports visible. They're quite impressive in person.



Inside the Beaux-Arts Court, a little bit, forgot to take the whole room


A man and a woman performing Egyptian songs


The arcade adjacent to the Court (blurry)


Down the stairs from the 5th floor, just because


A brief, voyeuristic video of stair traffic


My new best friend. He needs to loosen up.


Yet he refuses with an eerily unaffected smirk


The Egyptian collection is very impressive, and I highly recommend visiting. There is also an room full of works from Brooklyn artists, some pretty funny, others beautiful, some weird, and some that you had to be the artist to understand. There is also an exhibit featuring high school students' work which I didn't know about at the time. That's even sadder considering 5-7 people from my school have stuff there.

Go... you git there now.

April 21st, 2004, 11:42 PM
Great photos, Gulcrapek. The crowds were often much larger than the shots display, esp. around the live entertainment on the public plaza. The Beaux Arts court on the third level was an unexpected surprise, as was the fact that the museum has five floors of exhibits. I saw as much as I could but my feet demanded an extended cafe break. To quote Arnold: I'll be back!

April 21st, 2004, 11:46 PM
The Brooklyn Museum (http://www.brooklynmuseum.org/)

The Brooklyn Museum of Art is the second largest art museum in New York City and one of the largest in the United States. One of the premier art institutions in the world, its permanent collection includes more than one and a half million objects, from ancient Egyptian masterpieces to contemporary art, and represents almost every culture. It is housed in a 560,000 square foot, Beaux-Arts building that welcomes approximately half a million visitors each year. Located in Central Brooklyn, a half-hour from midtown Manhattan with its own subway stop, the Museum is set on Eastern Parkway and one block from Grand Army Plaza in a complex of 19th-century parks and gardens that also contains Prospect Park, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and the Wildlife Center.

TLOZ Link5
April 22nd, 2004, 12:49 AM
Beautiful. What an amazing asset to Brooklyn and the City! This will become one of the most beloved public spaces in New York.

April 22nd, 2004, 01:37 PM
Somehow I think the exterior is much stronger than the interior. It relates to the existing building in scale and the plaza is quite good. I think the interior space is a bit awkward and the high tech detailing seems arbitrary compared to the exterior. It's the Rose Planetarium transplanted. The space seems too cavernous.


April 22nd, 2004, 02:22 PM
You've found another Audrey Munson (http://forums.wirednewyork.com/viewtopic.php?t=2680&start=15)

April 22nd, 2004, 04:49 PM
What do I get?

April 22nd, 2004, 06:44 PM
A date with Audrey.

April 23rd, 2004, 09:33 AM
I Love it! Adaptive reuse of great old buildings (and usually even of not so great buildings, as long as they're old) is one of the best forms of urban renewal and adds soooo much to communities. May this neighborhood continue to flourish!

April 28th, 2004, 01:43 PM
Architecture Review

Light Fantastic

A new entrance to the Brooklyn Museum and a plan to reinvent Lincoln Center’s north campus add sparkle and spaciousness to aging fortresses.

By Joseph Giovannini

In an age of cosmetic surgery, it is easy to confuse architectural intervention with, well, call it façade-lift. But Cinderella transformations can rejuvenate and even redefine buildings grown rigid and opaque with age and which, in the case of cultural institutions, have come between the dancer and the dance. Architecture is destiny, and it can be sublime—witness the various permutations of the Guggenheim. Even absent wholesale reconstruction, some institutions are discovering what a modicum of intervention can do: A little nip and tuck can have the impact of a total personality transplant. Both the Brooklyn Museum of Art and Lincoln Center have recently answered the self-corrective call, and each is now emerging with a much blither spirit.

At the end of Saturday Night Fever, John Travolta decides to make the move from Brooklyn to Manhattan, in a leap up New York’s evolutionary chain. Today, his son would ride the subway back, stride through the Brooklyn Museum’s glassy new portico, and down the champagne. Having tried harder for at least two decades, the Avis of New York museums is at last hitting its stride as a joyous temple of the borough’s renaissance. Across the East River, on the Upper West Side, Lincoln Center just unveiled a $325 million redesign by Diller Scofidio + Renfro that is every bit as open and people-friendly as the museum’s, but touched as well with a sly Duchampian wit. What the designs have in common is an imaginative leap beyond the predictable that will help capture a generation of patrons who have largely ignored these institutions, having found them elitist and, worse, forbidding. The new projects are indirect responses to massive demographic shifts—first to downtown, and then to Brooklyn—that have altered the cultural map of the city.

I first became aware of the talent drain to Brooklyn in the mid-eighties, when, writing on architecture and design for the Times, I noticed my Rolodex fattening with 718 prefixes. Not long after, the borough started getting seriously cool, with all those Robert Wilson productions at BAM, plus the imports from the Royal National Theater at BAM’s self-consciously “distressed” annex, the Majestic (now the Harvey). Restaurants followed, and soon reviewers rained stars on local chefs (who knew?).

Yet twenty years ago, no museum was mustier than the Brooklyn, an inflated Beaux-Arts edifice by McKim, Mead & White. Here the unsuspecting visitor had to climb a penitential 28-foot-high flight of stairs to an entrance colonnade in a Sisyphean, all-too-symbolic attempt at rising to high art: The permanent dominance of culture over the individual was cast into the building’s posture.

This nineteenth-century artifact now boasts a spectacular new front stoop, a fanning semicircle of glass, grass, and steel that already is proving to be a breeder reactor of spontaneous urban life along Eastern Parkway. On members’ night, thousands of the borough’s hip and young—there was Michael Arad himself, winner of the World Trade Center memorial design competition, pushing a baby stroller—swarmed the elegant, futuristic structure on their way into a galvanizing exhibition of home-grown contemporary art, “Open House: Working in Brooklyn.”

James S. Polshek, of the Polshek Partnership Architects, has reversed the McKim, Mead attitude with a $63 million entrance and plaza that extends a warm architectural handshake. Today, visitors emerge from the reconfigured subway station into a small orchard of cherry trees arrayed by landscape architect Judith Heintz as the outer ripples of structured circles radiating from the museum’s inner hall. Architects frequently pivot buildings on circles, which are omnidirectional, and Polshek plucked the idea from an unbuilt hemicycle of steps detailed in McKim, Mead’s original plan, repositioning it at the front to take people into its 180-degree embrace.

Working with management partner Duncan Hazard, in coordination with Joan Darragh, the museum’s vice-director for planning and architecture, Polshek expanded and transformed the classical device of a portico into an environmental art piece. A computer-programmed fountain of geysers by WET Design—irresistible to kids—dances in the outer ring, facing bleachers nested in the stepped semicircular profile. A boardwalk invites visitors into the inner rings of the steel-and-glass superstructure, offering 360-degree views inside and back to the street, as though the museum and city were theatrical happenings to be observed alongside the exhibitions within. A diagonal path pierces the concentric rings, delivering visitors to the ticket desk in the luminous pavilion.

Wise gardeners know how to plant a yard to attract birds, and Polshek has interpreted the new entrance so that it captivates people. He breaks the circles into segments, giving each a role, creating a diversified environment for looking, stopping, playing, visiting. The informality promotes a participatory relationship, and people vote with their feet all over the structure: Form provokes activity, which in turn encourages visitors to enter the museum, searching for more. The glass structure, its dynamic steel columns leaning forward in contrast to the stiffly static museum, counterintuitively forms a shimmering and fragile visual base for the heavy limestone edifice. Polshek removes the ground visually from the imposing mother building, making it look buoyant and magical. This is a sympathetic and respectful contemporary addition to a designated landmark.

If BAM, the Harvey, and now the Brooklyn Museum are all fresh and alluring, Manhattan institutions risk growing predictable, not to say stale. MoMA, stuck in its own magnificent rut of monographic shows on modern masters, knew it was losing the next generation, and linked with P.S. 1 in Queens to attract new blood. Like MoMA, Lincoln Center urgently needed a jolt of Viagra, and hired Diller Scofidio + Renfro, arguably downtown’s hippest architectural boîte, to bring back the thrill.

Each of the center’s companies is encased in a modernist monument; through friendly alterations, the designers are using architecture to crack open the treasure houses so that the energy of the city flows inside through glassy portals, and intimations of the spectacles inside reach the street. A glass prow floating above Broadway, for example, allows passersby to watch Juilliard dancers rehearsing. Interior and exterior charge each other. Dismantling the fortress in favor of urban charisma benefits the immediate neighborhood; at the same time, it represents an open invitation to festivity.

Like Polshek and company, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, working with Fox & Fowle Architects, also show great deference to quasi-historic buildings. Removing the wide, oppressive bridge over West 65th Street and eliminating intrusive driveways, the architects transform this ominous service corridor by reestablishing its “streetness” with storefronts, lobbies, and marquees. They propose a theater lobby along 65th for Eero Saarinen’s elegantly refined Vivian Beaumont, next to a juice bar, all under a restaurant with a potato-chip-shaped roof whose top doubles as a parabolic lawn for Juilliard students and visitors alike.

And just as Polshek formed the Brooklyn Museum entrance as an environmental field rather than as a focused object, the Lincoln Center team distributes additions like barnacles throughout the north campus in an abstract language of diagonal lines and oblique and warped planes. The effect is as if Lincoln Center had eloped with Brasília in a mad moment. The dynamic cuts in the opaque walls are like incisions opening the interior anatomy for public viewing. At Alice Tully Hall, the architects extend and deform the existing Euclidean box and destabilize the building visually, investing the regular structure with a strange and even uncanny beauty. In an illusionistic tour de force, the architects slant the north plaza around the reflecting pool so that water appears to slope downhill.

Poets of a postmodern sensibility, Diller Scofidio + Renfro weave virtuality into the design, creating a luminous electronic space at 65th and Broadway, its curved organic walls, like an orange peel, inset with monitors scrolling programs. Digital ticker tapes mixed within new staircases splice the virtual world into the physical. The sum total of the digital gadgetry promises to expand the cityscape with views of the happenings inside, bringing shows to the street, affirming the architectural gestures that already open the various theaters. Making many working parts of the complex visible, the architects act as conductors, orchestrating the whole complex into an outdoor urban performance.

In both the Lincoln Center and Brooklyn Museum projects, the architects graft additions that grow from the original concepts into unexpected hybrids. But they are not just making formal alterations to give the institutions an image makeover; the additions are helping to update the culture of the institutions themselves, broadening their programs, democratizing their identities, renewing their very missions. Architecture is the can opener for these closed containers, creating a more porous and interactive relationship between the city at large and institutions that ultimately prosper in the open.

From the May 02, 2004 issue of New York Magazine.

April 28th, 2004, 05:50 PM
My new best friend. He needs to loosen up.

Yet he refuses with an eerily unaffected smirk

He seems to share a surgeon with Michael Jackson! :wink:

May 10th, 2004, 02:20 AM
May 10, 2004


Brooklyn's Museum Under Glass


The Brooklyn Museum spent the last century as a shadow of its original ideal. As envisioned in the 1890's, it was to be the largest museum in the world, about three million square feet — a "monument to chutzpah," in the words of its current director, Arnold Lehman. Then Brooklyn was folded into New York City, leaving the superlatives in Manhattan. The museum came to house the second-largest art collection in the country — behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan — but in a facility only one-sixth of the original planned size.

Sometimes, the Brooklyn Museum seemed bent on punishing visitors for its frustrated ambition. Those entering through its heavy bronze doors found a gloomy, tomblike hall that seemed to go nowhere. Visitors often missed whole floors of paintings, sculptures and antiquities. Museumgoers — who averaged fewer than 1,000 a day last year — truly suffered for the art they did see in the summer, when galleries were without air-conditioning.

That's all history. Thanks to a $63 million makeover, the forbidding entrance on Eastern Parkway is gone. A structure of tiered glass now both veils and reveals the restored Beaux-Arts facade, making the building itself the museum's largest display. Inside, galleries have been rethought to include a more rounded historic, cultural and sensory experience. An 18th-century Zuni water jar sits beside a Dutch kas, or cabinet, from the same era. Debussy gives way to what sounds like Andean pipes. Totem poles sit in the open, and paintings hang a little lower, all looking magnificent, if vulnerable to curious hands.

The accessibility of pieces is deliberate, even defiant. Casting off museum stodginess — and paying more attention to Caribbean, African and Latin American art — seems to have helped attract more blacks and Latinos, many of whom live in the surrounding neighborhoods. Attendance by members of these minority groups is up nearly 50 percent over the last five years. The average age of visitors, meanwhile, has dropped by almost two decades, to 42.

That Brooklyn seems to have tapped into a market that has escaped many other art institutions hasn't stopped critics who decry the changes, outside and in. But then, they probably have never danced to salsa music in front of a priceless Cézanne. Now they can, in Brooklyn.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

August 8th, 2004, 10:30 PM
Brooklyn Museum photos (http://www.pbase.com/zippythechimp/brooklyn_museum)

August 8th, 2004, 11:12 PM
Like always I am always impress by your photos! Thanks for sharing those Brooklyn museum photos ZippyTheChimp. :D

I like that museum. It is so beautiful and so charming. But I will be honest with you. I haven't been inside. I have been in the area like many times but not in the building.

The more I see it, the more it keeps attracting me. I better go.

February 15th, 2009, 08:18 AM
From Friday the 13th.


February 15th, 2009, 09:31 PM
I took my seven year old nephew to the Museum today. He wanted to see "mummies". He loved the Egyptian exhibit and was really taken with the African art. I'd have never predicted it.

February 16th, 2009, 08:19 AM
Kids love the mummies. I still remember the children's art classes I took there back in the 80s as if they were yesterday.