The Storm King Art Center has announced that it will begin a $45 million refresh of its acclaimed outdoor museum, spread over 500 acres of woods and meadows in New York’s Hudson Valley. The capital project will bring a host of new features and upgrades to the 60-year-old sculpture park—including accessible visitor pavilions, a relocated parking lot, infrastructural improvements, and a preservation, fabrication, and maintenance building—to better accommodate continued growth. As noted in a press release, a “tremendous increase in attendance and programming” has created an urgent need for capital improvements that “prioritise the visitor experience and reinforce the Art Center’s leadership in landscape conservation and environmental sustainability.”
“This ambitious capital project enriches the very best of Storm King while helping pave our path to a more sustainable future,” said Storm King President John P. Stern in a statement. “It allows us to advance all aspects of our work and mission; to support our growing community of visitors, artists and staff; and to preserve our exceptional site and collection for future generations.”
With work due to begin later this year, Storm King has assembled an impressive team of global firms to lead the design of the ambitious venture, including Heneghan Peng Architects, which is the first project for the Dublin-based firm alongside New York’s own WXY architecture + urban design and a strong pair of landscape architecture offices: Reed Hilderbrand from Cambridge and New Haven and Gustafson Porter + Bowman from London.
Amy S. Weisser, associate director of strategic planning and projects at Storm King, noted that “although each of the four companies brings their own toolbox of expertise, their collective approach is based on a shared set of values that align with Storm King’s .”
“They share a similar respect for art and nature and a similar dedication to life in and outside of nature, to creativity and collaboration, to caring for people and nature, and to building sustainable infrastructure,” she added.
The $44.5 million fundraising campaign first launched in 2017, with $43.5 million raised to date. Just today, Storm King launched a public fundraiser to help get the campaign across the finish line. New York State has also shown its generosity by providing $2.6 million in support. (Federal funding includes $2 million from Empire State Development, as recommended by the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council, and an additional $600,000 from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority through its Carbon Neutral Community Economic Development programs.)
As detailed by Storm King, a trio of core values - A Gracious Arrival, Support for Artistic Vision and A Sustainable Future – were set to guide the design.
On the A Gracious Arrival front, Storm King commissioned the design team to conceive a series of pavilions containing ‘essential’ visitor facilities such as restrooms, large group gathering spaces and more. The pavilions are connected to the main site by accessible pathways and flank a newly created consolidated car park at the site’s perimeter. (The current park areas will be converted into new artificial landscapes.)
“Storm King is very much a living landscape, and our gentle design approach keeps the focus on art in the landscape. The landscape and the art remain the protagonists, with architectural elements supporting rather than competing,” explained Claire Weisz, Founding Director of WXY, in reference to the visitor pavilions. “Each structure is porous and designed to aid visitor movement and exploration of Storm King’s diverse environments while opening up multiple lines of sight.”
The new parking lot will include dedicated public transit areas to minimize the traffic-related carbon footprint of the relatively remote locations and make the campus “more accessible for those without their own vehicle.” In addition to an orientation pavilion, there will also be a special drop-off area for school classes.
Joining the new pavilions is the purpose-built Conservation, Fabrication and Maintenance Building. Located on the southern edge of Storm King’s sprawling campus and intended as a “creative collaboration space,” the flexible, versatile facility will function as a workshop, studio, workshop, storage space and office. Not only does the building serve as a repository for the museum’s world-class collection of existing sculptures, but new works are also created and manufactured.
In this sense, the project involves the creation of new artistic landscapes, including, as mentioned, in the now existing car parks to the north and south of the site. The parking lot reclamation effort will “naturally expand existing exhibition space while providing a platform for exhibitions, temporary installations and public programs, as well as revealing additional sightlines onto Storm King’s forest edge.”
Myriad sustainable design strategies and elements that benefit the local ecology will be incorporated throughout the project, including the LEED Gold Target Pavilions and the landscape itself, which will receive more than 650 new trees.
“It is exceptionally rare for landscapes to be treated as seriously as art, as is the case with Storm King. The setting at Storm King lets people see that they have a relationship with the land, invites them to imagine, to care and appreciate that it’s changing, just as they do,” said Beka Sturges, Director of Reed Hilderbrand. “We thought carefully about how we could make the forests, wetlands and overall biodiversity of the site a more inherent and exciting part of the experience, specifically how it could support people’s encounter with the art. This includes planning for a greater variety of plant species – different heights, textures, shapes and groupings that reward both intimate viewing and long viewing.”
Work on the investment project is scheduled to be completed in 2024. A will return with a deeper look at the design as this transformative, collaborative effort unfolds.