The new David Chipperfield-designed East Building of the St Louis Art Museum is set to open on the 29 June. Photography: Jacob Sharp, courtesy of Saint Louis Art Museum and Architectural Wall Systems
The polished concrete addition sits at the heart of the city's Forest Park. Photography: Jacob Sharp, courtesy of Saint Louis Art Museum and Architectural Wall Systems
The new building is directly linked to the museum's original 1904 Beaux Arts Main Building. Photography: Jacob Sharp, courtesy of Saint Louis Art Museum and Architectural Wall Systems
Chipperfield has designed the structure around the needs of the museum's collection. Photography: Simon Menges, courtesy of Saint Louis Art Museum
The East Building's main hall features a distinctive coffered concrete ceiling that helps provide natural light in the library. Photography: Simon Mnges, courtesy of Saint Louis Art Museum
The museum's permanent collection includes 'Most Wanted Men No. 12' by Andy Warhol. © 2013 Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts / ARS, New York
'Number 3' by Jackson Pollock. © The Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, NY
'Red, Orange, Orange on Red' by Mark Rothko. © Kate Rothko Prizel & Christopher Rothko / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, NY
'Betty' by Gerhard Richter. © Gerhard Richter 2013
'German National Library, Frankfurt am Main IV' by Candida Höfer. © Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
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David Chipperfield has created a rectilinear new extension to the Saint Louis Art Museum, housed in the city's leafy Forest Park. The British architect was drafted in after it became clear that the museum had outgrown its 'Main Building', designed by American architect Cass Gilbert in 1904. The new 'East Building', which offers additional exhibition and up-to-date facilities, has just been completed.
Chipperfield was selected as the scheme's architect in 2005. One of the project's primary aims was to solve the infrastructure crisis the museum suffered from with its original building. A second issue Chipperfield faced was the need to create a design that would be contemporary but sit well next to the existing structure, which has strong architectural merit in its own right. 'We thought, can the extension help redefine the original building?" says Chipperfield. A seamless circulation between the two wings - the old and the new - was another point for the architecture to address.
The new addition has its own front door, which leads straight to gallery space on the ground level, while an extensive parking area on the lower level doubled the museum's external visitor parking space - a big advantage towards increasing the museum's accessibility.
One of the East Building's most distinctive features is its coffered ceiling, made out of polished concrete. It helps provide natural light to the galleries, as well as public spaces.
Still, the East Building is not here to steal the show. 'This is not a new building', says Chipperfield. 'It is a building supporting an existing building'. The museum's excellent art collection also needed its place in the architectural dialogue. Adds museum director Brent R Benjamin: '[The museum] is built around the needs of the collection.'
With the building finished, the museum is now settling into its new space and installing its first exhibition there, entitled Postwar German Art in the Collection. Having increased its total gallery space by approximately 30%, the refreshed St Louis Art Museum will have its grand opening to the public on the 29 June.
Read about the Hepworth Wakefield gallery - winner of a Wallpaper* Design Award 2013 - by David Chipperfield