Preservation Issues

Conservancy Supports New Frick Expansion Proposal


-The Frick (Courtesy of Selldorf Architects)

The Conservancy joined preservationists and the leaders of many cultural institutions in supporting a plan to expand the Frick Collection, at a Landmarks Preservation Commission hearing on May 29. (Read our testimony) More than 50 people testified, many in support, but many also questioning the size of the additions and the impact on the Frick’s beloved viewing garden. The Commission did not take a vote at the end of the four-hour long hearing, but asked the project team to return with responses to the testimony and questions from the Commissioners.

Architect Annabelle Selldorf presented the proposal, which would not alter the 1914 Carrere & Hastings mansion at the heart of the Frick. It does call for additions to the Library and the infill museum buildings designed by John Russel Pope in 1935, when Henry Clay Frick’s residence was adapted for gallery use. The additions’ limestone facades would be similar to the historic buildings, and connected by a bronze, limestone, and glass link in a more contemporary style. The proposal also included a low rooftop addition to the 1977 reception hall designed by Bayley, Van Dyke, and Poehler; it would be bronze and glass with a copper roof. Below ground, the Frick plans to construct a new auditorium. Russell Page’s 1977 viewing garden would be rebuilt to match the original. Beyer Blinder Belle is the executive architect and landscape designer Lynden Miller will be overseeing the garden recreation.

The Conservancy’s testimony stated that our Public Policy Committee “found that the new limestone-clad additions are appropriate in their height, massing, and materials. They draw inspiration from the historic buildings in a respectful manner. The rooftop addition to the Reception Hall will rise gracefully from the building, in the manner of a conservatory. The connecting link is modest, but well-considered. There will be no loss of historic fabric, and while some façade elements of the Library Building will be less visible, they will not be removed or altered by this project.”

The plan will also substantially increase accessibility with new ADA-compliant entrances, repurpose second-floor office space for galleries, and expand room for educational and conservation functions.