Jamie Fobert Architects’ £35.5 million National Portrait Gallery makeover has been recommended for approval by Westminster planners
The local authority’s planning committee will vote next Tuesday (23 April) on whether to give permission for the revamp, the largest development at the Trafalgar Square gallery since it opened in 1896.
But the designs, developed with heritage specialist Purcell, have been given an early thumbs up from planning officers.
A report, to be considered at next week’s meeting, said the public benefits of the scheme were ’substantial’ and ’clearly’ outweighed any harm to the heritage asset.
The scheme will increase public gallery space by about 20 per cent, with its East Wing, part of the original building, brought back into use as the new Weston Wing.
It also includes the creation of a ‘more welcome and generous’ entrance and forecourt on the gallery’s north façade.
Fobert’s design for the forecourt floor features a contemporary interpretation of a fan pattern that runs through the gallery’s original mosaic floors.
The development also includes a complete re-interpretation of the gallery’s collection across 40 refurbished spaces and a new learning centre.
At the unveiling of Fobert’s designs, the gallery also launched a public appeal to drum up funds for the project.
In March, the gallery hit the headlines after it said it would no longer take a £1 million Sackler Trust donation for the revamp following protests over the philanthropic body’s links to the US opioid crisis.
However at the time the gallery confirmed that without the Sackler Trust pledge, it had already raised £29.1 million, with the Heritage Lottery Fund allocating £9.4 million to the scheme last summer.
It said it hoped to have all the funds in place this spring.
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Fobert and Purcell won a competition for the cultural project in February 2018.
The AJ understands that other practices in the running for the job included David Adjaye, OMA, Farshid Moussavi, 6a, Caruso St John and Haworth Tompkins.
The architects will work with engineers Max Fordham and Price & Myers on the scheme.