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Gehry meets Robert Adam in Philadelphia

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American starchitect Frank Gehry is to come face-to-face with the work of 18th-century superstar Robert Adam when he gets to work on a vast new expansion of the Philadelphia's Museum of Art.

In the most unlikely of meetings, Gehry will encounter the work of Britain's legendary neo-Classicist architect, whose original drawing room from his Lansdowne House is exhibited at the museum.

The former home of Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger and Harry Selfridge, founder of Selfridge's department store, the room was dismantled and rebuilt in its current American home.

The museum, designed by Horace Trumbauer and Associates and Zantzinger, Borie and Medary, has employed Gehry to produce a 10-year masterplan to add expansive new gallery spaces, 'without disturbing the Classic exterior'.

The project will add new galleries for contemporary art and special exhibitions by excavating under the Museum's east terrace, to create a total of 8,000 m 2of new space.

The appointment adds to an ever-growing list of gallery work for Pritzker Prize winner Gehry, who has recently been asked to create a new contemporary art museum in Paris as well as a possible Guggenheim in Abu Dhabi.

Gehry said: 'I saw this as an opportunity to learn from a legendary museum director and to accept the discipline of producing an important addition to a great institution with minimal exterior intrusion.'

by Richard Waite

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