It's not every day a new building rises in Savannah, a city that experienced its heyday in the mid-19th century. So Sottile & Sottile's addition to the antebellum structure that houses the museum at Savannah College of Art and Design is a coup for this historic centre in America's deep south.
The new SCAD Museum of Art's triumph is a 25m steel and glass lantern, tall enough to feature alongside the spires and copper domes on the city's skyline. But the real marvel is the drastic juxtaposition between the original Greek Revival structure - including ruins of an 1853 railway depot - and the soaring, light-filled spaces conceived by Christian Sottile, also a SCAD professor and alumnus. Together, they grow the museum's exhibition and education space by more than 6,000 sq m.
Added components include indoor and outdoor theatres, galleries, 'learning laboratories' and a massive auditorium, all incorporating antique bricks from the original site.
The building is inaugurated by site-specific exhibits by four American artists: sculptor Liza Lou, portraitist Kehinde Wiley and installation artists Bill Viola and Kendall Buster. The new SCAD Museum of Art also incorporates the freshly revamped Walter O Evans Center for African American Studies, one of the finest black art collections in the US.
But perhaps most excitingly, the vivacious former US
Vogue editor-at-large, Andre Leon Talley, who received an honorary doctorate from SCAD in 2008, has launched his eponymous fashion gallery, featuring designs by Tom Ford, Oscar de la Renta, Zac Posen, Isabel Toledo and
Manolo Blahnik.