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The Barnes Foundation
Tod Williams Billie Tsien

May 28, 2010 /

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

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The Barnes Foundation © 2012 Tom Crane

The Barnes Foundation building was conceived as a "Gallery in a Garden, Garden in a Gallery."

Together with landscape architect Laurie Olin, Tod Williams and Billie Tsien have conceived a "Gallery in a Garden, Garden in a Gallery" that honors the original Barnes facility and provides visitors with a highly personal and contemplative experience. The design offers a series of outdoor rooms and spaces that unfold as visitors approach the building, passing through the public gardens en route to the entrance.

When the architects were first studying the plans of the existing Merion Gallery they noted that the walls that separated the smaller end galleries from the rest of the larger galleries on the first and second floors were aligned with one another and could be significantly wider without compromising the Foundation's mandate that any new design respect the arrangement of the rooms within the Gallery. This early observation established a structure that would guide many other decisions made resulting in the creation of the Light Court to provide natural light through the windows of the Collection Gallery.

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The Barnes Foundation © The Barnes Foundation

The stone that wraps the exterior is a fossilized, limestone called Ramon Gray, quarried in the Negev desert. The hand-tooled stone, set in panels, is overlaid on a stainless steel skin with bronze accents, evoking a cloth-like tapestry that alludes both to works in the collection and to African textiles.

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The Barnes Foundation © Tom Crane 2012
The Light Court is the living room of the Barnes Foundation. During the day, the Light Court will be primarily used for the orientation of groups and for casual seating and conversation as one moves into and out of the Collection Gallery. In the evenings, the space can be easily configured to accommodate a variety of events.

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The Barnes Foundation © Tom Crane 2012
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The Barnes Foundation © 2012 The Barnes Foundation
The Light Court is capped by the Light Canopy, a voluminous light diffuser that brings natural light into the Court, the Gallery and offices in a controlled manner. As one enters the Light Court, the quantity and dominance of natural light replicates the feeling of being outside before entering the Collection Gallery.

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The Barnes Foundation © 2012 Tom Crane
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The Barnes Foundation © 2012 Tom Crane
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The Barnes Foundation © 2012 Tom Crane
Maintaining the solar orientation of the rooms in the Gallery required that they be entered from the north and face south toward the magnificent allée of London plane trees along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

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The Barnes Foundation © 2012 Tom CraneAerial view from the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and 20th Street.
Within the Collection Gallery the architects have simplified and intensified the details, lightening the finish on the wood, utilizing simple floor patterns and re-shaping the ceilings to distribute new artificial lighting and mechanical air from the picture rails - the Gallery has been given a new luminosity. The windows have been re-designed to be wood, as opposed to white-painted metal, with tinted clear glass as opposed to frosted, which regains the connection of the Collection to the gardens.

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The Barnes Foundation © 2012 Tom CraneLe Bonheur de Vivre Room
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The Barnes Foundation © 2012 Tom Crane
To supplement the teaching that takes place within the Collection Gallery, the Lower Level of the building houses a hub of educational spaces centered on a generous Lobby with comfortable seating and a library shelf for Collection books. Visitors and students can access a 150-seat auditorium, two seminar rooms, a coffee bar and a library that wraps the Gallery Garden.

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Lower Lobby, looking into the Gallery Garden and Library. The Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia. © 2012 Tom Crane
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The Barnes Foundation © 2012 Tom Crane
The offices are located on the second floor of the Pavilion, distributed across two open spaces that encourage communication among the education and curatorial staff and the administration, development and marketing staff.

In keeping with the Foundation's historic environmental mission, which includes its programs in horticultural education and its stewardship of the Arboretum in Merion, the Philadelphia building of the Barnes Foundation features a sustainable design, and utilizes filtered natural daylight, a green roof, grey water re-use, reclaimed Pennsylvania and New Jersey wood and other local materials. The Foundation is seeking LEED platinum certification for the building, the highest level possible.

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Drawing courtesy The Barnes FoundationSite Plan

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Drawing courtesy The Barnes FoundationPlan Level One

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Drawing courtesy The Barnes FoundationPlan Level Two

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Drawing courtesy The Barnes FoundationSection

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Drawing courtesy The Barnes FoundationSection
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Model image courtesy The Barnes Foundation

Facts about The Barnes Foundation

Total site area:

4.5 ac
Barnes Foundation building: 93,000 ft2

Executive Architect:
Tod Williams Billie Tsien

Landscape Architect:

Olin

Associate Architect:

Ballinger

TWBTA Project Team:

Tod Williams
Billie Tsien
Philip Ryan
David Later
Robin Blodgett
Jenee Anzelone
Miriam Peterson
Whang Suh
Aaron Korntreger
Carlyle Fraser

Olin Project Team:

Laurie Olin
Yue Li
Eve Kootchick
Jen Toy
Kasey Toomey
Andrew Leach

Ballinger Project Team:

Stephen Freret
Simon Tickell
Eva Lew
Maryellen Wickoff
Adam Hayes
Ed Strockbine
Peter Dustin
Helen JooSoo Choi

Lighting Consultants:

Fisher Marantz Stone

Project Managers:

Aegis Property Group

Construction Managers:

L. F. Driscoll

MEP Engineers:

Altieri Sebor and Wieber

Structural Engineers:

MEP engineers

Structural Engineers:

Severud Associates

Civil Engineers:

Hunt Engineering

Acoustic and Audio Visual:

Acoustic Dimensions

Exterior Wall Consultant:

Axis Group Limited

Conservation Consultant:

Samuel Anderson Architects

Theater Consultants:

Schuler Shook

Geotechnical:

Earth Engineering Inc.

Client:

Barnes Foundation

Last updated: December 19, 2013

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