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National Portrait Gallery launches major competition for £35.5 million expansion

National Portrait Gallery
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The National Portrait Gallery in London’s West End is recruiting an architect-led team for a £35.5 million expansion

The winner of the estimated £2 million contract will deliver a major overhaul of the Grade I-listed Trafalgar Square building, which will see its East Wing reopened to the public by 2023.

The Inspiring People: Transforming our National Portrait Gallery project represents the largest upgrade in the Ewan Christian-designed 1896 building’s history and comes 17 years after Dixon Jones’ Ondaatje Wing opened, increasing exhibition spaces by 50 per cent.

Gallery director Nicholas Cullinan said: ‘The project represents the initial stage of a 10-year vision to deepen the public’s understanding and enjoyment of the gallery’s remarkable collection and to broaden its appeal to the widest possible audiences as well as to make the most of the building.

‘The Inspiring People project has been conceived with the enhancement of the visitors’ experience firmly centre stage. It will include a significant refurbishment, creating around 20 per cent more public and gallery space, a new state-of-the-art learning centre; restoring the East Wing back to public use, and will see the gallery’s most extensive programme of activities nationwide with plans to engage audiences onsite, locally, regionally and online.’

The National Portrait Gallery was established in 1856 and moved to its present home in St Martin’s Place close to St Martin-in-the-Fields in 1896. Today the museum’s collection comprises around 12,400 portraits, including paintings, sculpture, miniatures, drawings, prints and photographs.

Earlier this year, the gallery received £9.4 million from Heritage Lottery Fund towards the estimated £35.5 million cost of the redevelopment.

The project will involve a comprehensive redisplay of the museum’s collection and the refurbishment of existing areas. It is due to start on site in 2020 and complete by 2023.

Once complete, the scheme will deliver 20 per cent more exhibition space across the gallery along with an upgraded main entrance and new learning and studio spaces.

The search for an architect comes shortly after Westminster City Council approved plans by Purcell for an infill extension at the Grade I-listed National Gallery next door.

The approved scheme, called the Accommodation Hub, involves creating additional space in the east ground floor of the main building, designed by William Wilkins from 1832 to 1838.

 To recruit an architect-led team to deliver the Inspiring People scheme, the National Portrait Gallery has launched a two-stage restricted procedure in accordance with EU procurement guidelines and the Public Contracts Regulations 2015.

Up to six teams will be shortlisted and invited to participate in a ‘more detailed’ procurement evaluation following an initial call for expressions of interest and a prequalification questionnaire.

The winner will develop the scheme from RIBA Stage 2 to 7 and also assist with a Heritage Lottery Fund Round 2 application. Applicants must hold experience of working on heritage projects of a similar scale and Grade I-listed buildings.

Haworth Tompkins Architects completed a feasibility study for the project last year,

The deadline for applications is midday, 9 November.

How to apply

View the contract notice for more information


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