Four finalist concept designs have just been unveiled by the Portland Museum of Art for a planned expansion of the institution slated for completion by 2026 in New England’s thriving cultural capital.
The $100 million project will add a total of 60,000 square feet of space to the existing museum in the form of a new six- or seven-story structure to house the recently expanded PMA collections.
“Right now, because of our growth, the real risk is not building,” explained director Mark Bessire. “If museums don’t continue to grow, if you go back, it can take a generation to recover.”
The project concludes the redesign of Portland’s Congress Square neighborhood and will include the restoration of some of its existing buildings, three of which are over 100 years old, funded by a capital project that has already raised more than $30 million. Former USC School of Architecture dean Milton Curry and White Arkitekter partner Monica von Schmalensee were among 13 jurors who selected projects in August based on their “creative approach and sensitive, of their distinctive vision and embodiment of the PMA values of courage, fairness and service, sustainability and trust.”
The four finalist concepts will remain visible at the PMA until December 11th.
Adjaye Associates with Simons Architects, KMA, Michael Boucher Landscape Architecture, Atelier Ten, 2×4 and John Bear Mitchell
Description of the architects: “The Portland Museum of Art Expansion is designed as an armature of belonging that weaves community programming, public space and art into a robust cultural destination. Guided by indigenous knowledge systems applied with technology of the 21st century, the building’s main materials are sourced from the earth – recycled Maine rammed earth will articulate the envelope of the extension, and exposed timber beams will serve as both interior structure and finish. materials celebrate life cycles in the regional landscape, their expression bringing architecture back to the heritage and ecology of the museum square while reducing the overall carbon footprint.”
“An ode to the Penobscot Tribe term for the entrance, the Casco Entrance and its adjoining Shaw Sculpture Garden provide a seamless counterpoint to the opaque facade of the existing building. This new main entrance on the High Street invigorates the Shaw Sculpture Garden , drawing in passers-by – weaving the cityscape and gardens into the fabric of the museum.”
“Coding the principles of adaptability into the structure’s DNA, the entirety of the space is designed to function as a flexible framework, allowing for the reconfiguration and dissolution of the distinction between the museum’s programs into a common accessible experience. Acting as a guide for orientation and an invitation to explore, the expansion is anchored by a central staircase that extends the public realm from the Casco entrance up to the roof. audience in the sky, with a rooftop garden, sculpture park, and stunning views of Casco Bay and the city skyline.”
MVRDV with Simons Architects, STOSS, Institute for Human Centered Design, Pentagram, Atelier Ten and DVDL
Descriptions of the architects: “Our team’s concept for the unification and expansion of the Portland Museum of Art campus will transform the museum inside out. We are opening the museum to the city by inviting the public to the campus and allowing access from all sides. The campus becomes part of the cityscape, the city and the community. We are creating a new heart for the campus, a gathering place that solidifies the link between the current museum and the new wing, between art and people.
“With a light touch, the new PMA wing is sewn into the campus in keeping with the existing buildings. It becomes a collection of vertically stacked community and museum programs, with each floor having a distinct use, feel and look. spaces weave and overlap with these new programs. They connect vertically to a public thoroughfare that juxtaposes adjacencies and cultivates synergies. These interstitial spaces provide Portlanders with space for creativity, display, gathering and all kinds of public expression.The new wing promotes exchanges between creative programming and the community.
“As a beacon of the new era of PMA, the new wing will stand proudly in the city. On display to all, it will command attention and invite the city to live, explore and make it part of their world. Art for all, unpretentious, messy, transparent, expressive and a continuous work in progress.
LEVER Architecture with Scott Simons and Unknown Studio, Chris-Newell-Akomawt Educational Initiative, Openbox, Once-Future Office, Atelier Ten and Studio Pacifica
Description of the architects: “For 12,000 years, the Wabanaki have welcomed the dawn as a connection to people and place. Our proposal pays homage to Wabanaki worldviews by embracing light – connecting the PMA to a new urban architectural experience where all people belong. At the summer solstice, the curving roof of the expansion cradles the rising sun; in winter, the sun illuminates the central interior public space. Generous and airy, the architecture is an expression of the natural world made of regional wood, terracotta and granite.”
“Everything is interconnected. To unify the campus, our design removes barriers – replacing the administrative wing with an open public space on the ground floor running through the site. This ‘free street’ and adjacent landscapes form the connective tissue that unites eclectic buildings and programs. . The reimagined sculpture courtyard becomes a bright, accessible plaza and a festive entrance to a new, flexible performance space.”
“The Free Street brings the energy of the city into the museum, welcoming visitors with unexpected spaces – a community lounge, creative spaces and performance hall – where people can get their hands dirty and make some noise. This daylight-lit street rises up to the roof terrace, revealing layers of art and activity.
PMA’s “multi-vocal” approach to curation is reinforced by spaces that bring creation, performance and exhibition into dialogue without favoring one over the other. People engage with art in multiple ways and on their own terms.
The new PMA campus is a place where all the arts and all the people go together.”
Toshiko Mori Architect + Johnston Marklee + Preston Scott Cohen with Simons Architects, Cross Cultural Community Services, Arup, Buro Happold, Hargreaves Jones and WeShouldDoItAll
Description of the architects: “Our proposal fulfills the PMA’s Art for All mission through generous community spaces intertwined with 21st century galleries in a campus setting. Our design combines the urban scale of downtown in generous galleries with intimate visitor-scale settings in new harbor spaces and a living room for local communities.The diaphanous building evokes the historic buildings of Maine’s maritime industry as well as the typology of the artist’s studio while by remaining flexible, adaptive and forward-looking.
“The unique quality of Maine’s natural light is an inspiration to Maine artists. Our program invites visitors to experience that light in an authentic way. Sawtooth skylights and glass facades filter light into the interior galleries and community spaces, while the porous atrium informally flows between the north and south entrances, the new building, Payson, McLellan and Clapp House.”
“Artist Jeremy Frey guided our campus identity by incorporating Wabanaki basket weaving patterns into our facade. The birch thickets in the sculpture garden reflect the site’s indigenous history. We have incorporated the original portico of 142 Free Street into our facade to honor its historic relationship with the Payson building and the surrounding fabric.Our progressive unification approach enhances the campus visitor experience while allowing for incremental adjustments.
Future visitors to the Portland Museum of Art will experience a new contemporary museum, experience the connection to historic downtown Portland, and embody the integration of collections, community, and campus. Our vision for the Portland Museum of Art embodies a museum as a catalyst for change.”