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Dixon Jones opening doors at National Gallery

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Jeremy Dixon.Edward Jones has unveiled plans to revamp the National Gallery's East Wing.

The £21 million project follows the practice's highly praised extension to the adjacent National Portrait Gallery (NPG).At the same time Charles Saumarez Smith's move from the NPG to his new post as the National's director re-establishes the successful client-architect relationship that drove that earlier scheme.

The project complements the pedestrianisation of the north of London's Trafalgar Square and the start on site last week of Foster and Partners'grand stairway linking the square and gallery.

It establishes a new point of entry to the gallery at ground level to improve disabled access and converts a series of back-of-house spaces on the ground floor into improved public facilities.

Visitors will be able to enter the building through a new public entrance, the East Door, and pass through into the entrance hall lobby, where a lift will provide disabled access to the main gallery floor above.To either side of the entrance hall, the scheme creates a shop and 300-seat café, with interior design by Din Associates.

Beyond the entrance hall, a hidden courtyard at the heart of the building becomes a roof-lit atrium, connected to the galleries on the first floor by a new staircase.

The scheme also creates an informal public space in the ground floor Lower Hall, where visitors will be able to drink coffee, browse the gallery catalogues and access the gallery's databases through a collection of touch-screen computers.

On the main gallery floor, at first-floor level, the scheme will open up the Main Portico Entrance, restore the original Victorian decoration in the Staircase Hall and bring about further improvements to the Central Hall, the picture gallery at the heart of the building.

Work is due to start on the project in late spring 2003, with completion set for 2005.

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