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Adjaye scoops Princeton Art Museum job

David adjaye (c)alex fradkin
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Adjaye Associates has been selected to design a landmark new home for Princeton University Art Museum in New Jersey

The London and New York-based practice, working with Cooper Robertson as executive architect, will regenerate the cultural complex at the heart of the university campus.

The project will involve demolishing the existing museum – which holds than 100,000 works of art in its collection – and replacing it with a new facility featuring ‘dramatically enlarged’ spaces for permanent exhibitions, research, special exhibitions and art conservation.

The Adjaye block will be connected to existing wings of the surrounding complex, which house an academic department and an art library. 

The commission comes just two years after Adjaye Associates completed the new Smithsonian Institute National Museum of African American History and Culture on the National Mall in Washington DC.

Practice founder David Adjaye, who is chairing this year’s RIBA Stirling Prize jury, was a visiting professor at Princeton from 2008 to 2010 and won the latest commission following a competitive interview process.

He commented: ‘We are delighted to be chosen to shape the future of the Princeton University Art Museum, one of the finest university art museums and among the oldest art collecting institutions in America.

‘Defining a powerful centre of cultural gravity at the heart of one of the greatest universities in the world, the new Princeton University Art Museum building will engage with its campus and vibrant communities through a new synthesis of art, learning and social opportunities.

‘The reimagined museum will be the cultural gateway between Princeton University, its students, faculty and the world, a place of mind-opening encounter with art and ideas ‘in the service of humanity. We are deeply honoured to be part of the next chapter of its history.’

Princeton University Art Museum

Princeton University Art Museum

Source: Image by Andreas Praefcke

Princeton University Art Museum

Princeton vice president for facilities KyuJung Whang said: ‘Adjaye Associates and Cooper Robertson, both prominent architects in their own right, have teamed up to bring a creative and innovative approach to the design of the art museum project.

‘Both firms are well-known for developing museums that are not only architecturally meaningful but are inspirational and highly responsive to the needs of the building constituents, are open and welcoming, and are sensitive to the environment.’

Founded in 1882, the Princeton University Art Museum currently occupies a sprawling complex featuring several historic buildings including a Venetian Gothic-style hall by Ralph Adams Cram, a main 1966 building by Steinmann and Cain, and a 1980s extension by Mitchell Giurgola Architects.

According to a statement from the museum, the new building will be constructed on its current site in the centre of campus and will feature enhanced exhibition spaces along with object-study classrooms and office space for the museum’s 100 staff.

The project is the latest in a long line of high-profile cultural commissions for the practice, which is also working with Cooper Robertson on the new Studio Museum in Harlem.

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