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Frick Collection's Expansion Plan Continues to Rankle NYers

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The debate over the Frick's controversial expansion rages on, with supporters and detractors weighing their opinions. For archicritic Justin Davidson, expansion in museums that continue to grow their collections is inevitable; what style the addition takes determines its success. The proposed six-story addition to the Frick Collection designed by Davis Brody Bond would fill in a courtyard laid-out in 1977 by landscape architect Russell Page. The garden itself is a result of a former expansion, says the Post. Its grounds were formerly occupied by three townhouses the museum demolished to make a small reception hall, coat check, and gift shop. What Davis Brody Bond proposes is an addition which vanishes into the existing Beaux-Arts building rather than standing out.

Davidson writes for NYM of the "seamless" addition to the Beaux-Arts manse,

That sleight of hand collides with a first principle of preservation: that the lines between historical periods should be clear. What the Frick urgently needs is a third way, somewhere between slavish reproduction and slavish opposition. There should be a modern equivalent for the craftsmanship, detail, and luxury materials of a century ago. The problem is, there isn't. Davidson continues on to cite Annabelle Selldorf's modern yet respectful 2001 renovation of the Neue Gallerie as the gold-standard for rethinking historic buildings that need to be brought up to the task of entertaining today's flocks. Davidson writes of Selldorf's work, "The renovation twines together vastly different periods, not in an eclectic jangle but in delicate counterpoint. It's an example that suggests ... a sumptuous blend of freshness and respect that by now should have set the standard, not remain the admired exception." Yet the debate over the Frick expansion remains caught-up in the fears of ungainly additions and ruined vantages. One positive side: the renovation would allow museum visitors entrance to part of the Frick mansion's closely-guarded second floor. The addition, of course, has to pass through the Landmarks Preservation Commission. Until then, all expended breath on the matter is, well, just that.
· Why It's So Hard To Keep Beaux-Arts Museums Looking So Beautiful [NYM via Vulture]
· Upper East Siders fighting Frick Museum expansion over courtyard [NYP]
· Frick Collection Planning Huge Expansion on Upper East Side [Curbed]
· All Frick Collection coverage [Curbed]