The Frick Collection is ready to try again with the expansion of its Upper East Side museum and archives, announcing today that the Frick’s board has unanimously chosen Selldorf Architects as the project’s visionaries.
Annabelle Selldorf is a safe choice for the project, an even-keeled architect whose reputation with New York City projects like 10 Bond and the forthcoming Swiss Institute lend themselves to a certain kind of vision for the Frick. And this is not unintentional; the Frick Collection’s proposed expansion has already been through the ringer with neighbors, architects, and preservationists. “She’s somebody who has a clear vision of respect for historical buildings but at the same time has a clean, elegant, modernist aesthetic that is very much about welcoming visitors today,” Ian Wardropper, the Frick’s director, told the Times.
First proposed in June 2014, the Frick’s initial scheme for the site created by Davis Brody Bond included eliminating a beloved garden designed by Russell Page and adding a bulky, tall addition to the Gilded Age mansion. That proposal was officially nixed by the museum a year later, with the museum’s Board of Trustees announcing that they would pursue a new plan that avoided building on the garden site.
In a telephone interview with the Times, Selldorf noted that her firm’s plan will be “about enhancing the visitor’s experience and making it utterly seamless, so that it doesn’t harm any of the existing experience that people cherish, myself included.” She also noted that building on the garden site was off the table.
A press release announcing Selldorf Architects’ appointment notes that the firm’s design will “addresses the institution’s pressing needs to accommodate the growth of its collections and programs, upgrade its conservation and research facilities, create new galleries, and—for the first time—allow for dedicated spaces and classrooms for the Frick’s educational programs.” But a design is still far off; it’s expected to be released in winter 2017-2018.