Foster and Partners has moved further into the us consciousness by winning the illustrious job of masterplanning the expansion and renovation of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
The practice beat 29 other international firms approached by Malcom Rogers, the British director of the 130-year-old museum. The commission follows hard on the heels of Foster winning the 1999 Pritzker Prize, the us profession's highest honour. A 'hugely delighted' Foster denied it was all part of a grand plan to get a firmer footing in the us - the practice will be working with a local architect and only be setting up a temporary 'pilot' office in the city along the lines of those associated with other international projects. 'But I'm certainly excited by the project and working in the us,' he said. 'I've never made any secret of the fact that the experience of going to the us and being educated there played a very important part in my own studies - I owe a terrific debt for that. I enjoy the States immensely.'
Malcom Rogers, who missed out on the job to head up the National Portrait Gallery in London, said he wanted a future of the 'highest ambition' for the 50,000m2 mfa and for the expansion to dramatically improve its ability to exhibit, interpret and care for the collections. Although Foster said that his current ideas for the gallery 'could be summed up as a white sheet of paper', the mfa says that he was appointed for his ability to create a 'landmark design, integrating a Modernist aesthetic and state- of-the-art engineering and technology while remaining sympathetic to the environment and to the museum's historic buildings. Foster is to analyse the possibilities for new-build - which his practice naturally wants to carry out - with schematic drawings available early next year.' Construction is likely to be phased over a number of years as part of the museum's 10-year strategic plan.
The mfa project will be Foster and Partners' third in the us, but its first full-scale masterplan. In 1994 it completed a new wing for the Joslyn Museum in Omaha, Nebraska, and will soon complete work on the medical research laboratory for Stanford Univeristy in Palo Alto, California.