Speed Art Museum
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The Courier-Journal reported this weekend that the Speed Museum has announced it has narrowed its list of architects down to eight for the design of a new addition to their facility on Third Street at the University of Louisville. A committee selected the eight architects from a pool of 100 contenders located around the globe. Firms on the shortlist represent a wide array of museum experience and architectural risk-taking; all eight are capable of designing a strong building that will serve as an icon for the city. Some, however, are more avant-garde and controversial than others. We say bring the controversy.

The museum’s director, Charles Venable, says a final selection is expected by the end of the year. Design work will begin shortly after as the winning architect will collaborate with a landscape designer and nearly 15 years of accumulated study of the Speed Museum site. The addition location on the cramped 2-acre site will be determined during this process and could potentially include locations adjacent to the School of Business, in front of Ekstrom Library, or even across Third Street via a walkway or tunnel. The University of Louisville wants the new museum’s landscape to play a central role in its relationship to the campus and city, responding to students passing by and creating an environmentally sustainable model. One of the architects on the shortlist is responsible for the only LEED Gold museum in the world.

Speed Art Museum
Speed Art Museum. (Branden Klayko / Broken Sidewalk)

The project is expected to serve as a new gateway onto the Belknap Campus near the location of the original Shipp Avenue entrance and provide an architectural standard to elevate the cultural prospects of the city overall. Charles Venable came to the Speed Museum just over a year ago from the Cleveland Institute of Art and had initially downplayed expansion plans in favor of attracting higher profile exhibits to the museum. He expected the expansion to be years in the future as the museum needed time to grow financially and culturally. The announcement of the shortlist suggests a momentum change that is sure to inspire interest in the Speed Museum’s future.

Venable has indicated that the current facility set-up at the Speed Museum leaves much room for improvement. Inadequate space for social functions has meant parties have been pushed into galleries, an outdated auditorium needs a complete overhaul, and the main entrance to the museum is tucked inconspicuously behind an addition, leaving the Speed’s original brass front doors locked. The Speed Museum’s board had considered several years ago a potential downtown location as a sort of modern art wing of the museum, but opted in 2005 to focus expansion at its current site, determining coordination and cost would interfere with the museum’s mission.

The cost of the addition has not yet been determined and the Speed Museum expects to settle on a number when working with the architect, but with the caliber of design the museum is after, the final cost is sure to be high. In 2005, a master plan determined the addition might cost $150 million, but that figure is surely significantly lower than the expected new addition.

Here’s the list of architects who made the Speed Museum’s short list.

  • Bernard Tschumi, New York City
  • Bjarke Ingels Group, Copenhagen
  • Gluckman Mayner, New York City
  • Henning Larsen, Copenhagen
  • SANAA, Tokyo
  • Snohetta, Oslo
  • Studio Gang, Chicago
  • wHY Architects, Los Angeles

Read the complete Courier-Journal article here.

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Branden Klayko

Branden Klayko

Founder and Editor at Broken Sidewalk
Branden founded Broken Sidewalk in 2008 while practicing architecture in Louisville. He continued the site for seven years while living in New York City, returning to Louisville in 2016. Branden is a graduate of the College of Architecture at Washington University in St. Louis, and has covered architecture, design, and urbanism for The Architect's Newspaper, Designers & Books, Inhabitat, and the American Institute of Architects.
Branden Klayko

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