renzo piano: isabella stewart gardner museum opens in boston
renzo piano: isabella stewart gardner museum opens in boston renzo piano: isabella stewart gardner museum opens in boston
jan 17, 2012

renzo piano: isabella stewart gardner museum opens in boston

‘isabella stewart gardner museum’ by renzo piano, boston, USA photography © nic lehoux  / renzo piano building workshop

on january 19th, the new addition to the isabella stewart gardner museum in boston, USA, by italian architecture studio renzo piano building workshop, will be opened to the public. the extension houses a 300-seat auditorium, a 2, 000 sq. ft. (185 square meters) exhibition space, a café, conservation labs as well as an education studio and staff offices. a new, larger entrance welcomes visitors. the glass addition, set back 50 feet (15 meters) from the original building, is connected to the historic museum by a greenhouse corridor. 

to ensure that it does not overpower the existing site, the new building is slightly shorter. the geothermal well system,
daylight harvesting, water-efficient landscaping techniques and the use of vernacular materials all contribute to the building’s
LEED certification. painted copper panels and a clear glass façade help integrate the structure into the surrounding gardens. 

night view of evans way park lobby entrance 

the original museum was built in 1903 by isabelle stewart gardener (1840-1924) after inheriting $2.1 million from her father. her already large collection included fine and decorative art, tapestries, furniture, manuscripts and textiles. gardner once confessed,  ‘i’ve got the picture habit. it’s as bad as the whisky habit’. upon her death, she stipulated that her museum remains largely unaltered. however, the carriage house, previously located where the new addition now stands, was demolished in 2009. anne hawley, the museum’s director, decided that it was not part of the user experience and preferred expanding the space in which the pieces  can be displayed and enjoyed.     exterior view of entrance (left) stage level of calderwood hall  (right) special exhibition gallery with views of the historic palace 

views of the grand central staircase 

living room visitor orientation space 


blueprints of sections

section of the connection between the new building and the previously existing palace 


section through the new performance hall and special exhibition gallery 



sketch of site plan

perspective sketch of glass connector from the new building to the historic museum 

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