The Wadsworth Atheneum, the USA’s oldest public museum, has slowly grown over time, resulting in a maze of unconnected, small rooms. The design for the renovation and extension increases gallery space and improves the traffic flow. The rigid grids of the existing buildings are interwoven with a fluid circulation system which revolves around the central hollow core.
The addition of 1969 is replaced with a central distributor space which gives access to the separate buildings, whilst accommodating for their differing floor heights. It creates a new, transparent entrance, actively inviting people in and increases gallery space by a third. At the new entrance, an enclosed glass-walled concourse spans the entire museum. A cone-shaped opening, woven in fine metal mesh, descends from the rooftop to provide light.
Wadsworth Atheneum Museum
UNStudio Ben van Berkel, Caroline Bos, Tobias Wallisser with Arjan Dingsté, Olga Vazquez-Ruano and Colette Parras, Mike Green, Jorge Pereira, Cristina Bollis, Nuno Almeida, Katrin Kloetzer, Kieran O’Brien, Remco Bruggink, Mica Cimola, Igor Kebel, Sophie Valla, Cynthia Morales
Advisors Executive architect: Fox & Fowle, New York Structure: Arup, London with DesImone, New York Energy concept: Transsolar, Stuttgart Installations: AltieriSieborWeber, Connecticut Lighting: Richard Renfro, New York