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Rick Mather Architects dropped from US museum job after founder’s death

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The Peabody Essex Museum in Massachusetts has dropped Rick Mather Architects (RMA) just weeks after its founder, Rick Mather, died

The museum in New England is currently undergoing a $650 million renovation and expansion, featuring a 16,000m² extension by RMA due to complete in 2017.

RMA was still working on the designs when the practice’s ‘gifted’ figurehead Mather died last month after a short illness aged 75 (AJ 23.04.2013). The practice had been working on the extension, which included new galleries and a restaurant, for the past two years and the $30 million enabling works were near to completion.

Dan Monroe, the museum’s chief executive said: ‘We are deeply saddened by Rick Mather’s passing. It was a privilege and an honour to work with Rick and his team. He was a gifted architect.

‘After careful consideration, we have determined the best way forward to complete our expansion project is to engage the services of another firm for the next phase of design. We remain deeply appreciative of all the hard work and dedication that RMA has shown, including development of the master plan and program as well as the successful design and completion of the crucial first phase of the project. We wish them well in all of their future endeavours.’

Rick’s role in museum’s expansion was crucial and it would be difficult to envisage the completed project without him

Speaking to the AJ, a spokesperson for the museum added: ‘Rick Mather Architects is an excellent firm. Rick’s role in Peabody Essex Museum’s expansion was crucial for the museum and we felt that it would be difficult to envisage the completed project without him’.

The practice has responded with this statement: ‘We are disappointed by the Peabody Essex Museum’s decision not to continue our involvement beyond the masterplanning and current concept design stage. Over the last two years our team has established clear principles which will inform the future expansion providing extensive new galleries and public spaces whilst addressing many functional problems in the existing museum.

‘We look forward to the completion of our $30 million enabling phase which includes the renovation and creation of new gallery spaces to modern museum standards, providing vital new education and administrative functions. Completion of this initial phase is expected towards the end of 2013.’

Though the masterplan for the museum drawn up by RMA, will continue to be used for future development, the museum is now on the hunt for another architectural firm to complete the project. Several international firms will be invited to develop design proposals and the museum expects to announce the practice which they will work with by August.






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