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Foster reveals 'crystal jewel box' for Boston

Foster and Partners has unveiled its £297 million design for the Boston Museum of Fine Art. The plan will result in a 'crystal spine'running the full east/west axis of the building. The architect has also designed a further wing on the western edge of the museum and a study centre. Conservation studios and scientific research labs will be expanded and relocated to the study centre, as well as the museum's library and curatorial offices.

Lord Foster said: 'The 'crystal spine'will delicately unite courtyards and galleries both old and new, improving orientation for visitors and strengthening the museum's ties to its surrounding communities through an open and transparent structure.'

The eastern Phase I of the project (facing page, top) will start immediately. It consists of a 'jewel box'of steel and glass which will enclose the Richard and Helen Fraser Garden Court. It will link the main structure of the museum to the new East Wing.The 'jewel box'will house sculpture from the museum's collection and will serve as a venue for special events. The three-storey glass and granite East Wing will consist of a central building within the ' jewel box', flanked by two smaller pavilions.

These will be used to exhibit the Art of the Americas and contemporary art collections. The wing will also include additional educational facilities, including a 150-seat film theatre, seminar rooms, studio arts classrooms and a workshop.

The scheme will also include a new glazed restaurant on the top floor of the north pavilion of the East Wing overlooking parkland called the Fenway's Emerald Necklace and the Boston skyline.

Later phases will result in an additional western 'jewel box'which will mirror the eastern structure. It will be created in the Norma-Jean Calderwood Courtyard. The Art of Europe, Art of the Ancient World, Art of Asia, Oceania and Africa galleries will also be refurbished.

At the museum's central north/south axis, a new 'Jean and Frederic A Sharf information centre'will be created.

The museum is currently raising US$425 million (£297 million) to fund the project.Architect Guy Lowell originally designed the museum in 1907.

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