The art of renovating an art museum: Wilhelm tackles $38 million expansion
The Speed Art Museum
in Louisville is Kentucky’s oldest and largest art museum. Founded in 1925, it is known for its “art experiences” and international collections.
Wilhelm Construction is in the midst of a $38 million construction management contract to expand the museum, integrating nature, more exhibition space, and a new Art Park and public piazza.
Scheduled for completion by October 2015, the project includes construction of a new 62,500-square-foot building and an addition to an existing building, which will double the overall square footage and nearly triple the gallery space. The expansion will create more space for exhibitions, new contemporary art galleries, a museum shop, and a multifunctional pavilion for performances, lectures and entertaining.
Expanding an art museum is an art itself. Chris French, operations manager, and John Grosvenor, project manager, head up this impressive project which includes three phases.
With Phase I already complete, Phase II includes the construction of the new north building. It involves the demolition of the existing 1972 addition art galleries and kitchen area. In its place, a 63,000-square-foot concrete and structural steel-framed museum art gallery and visitor center with a café and catering capabilities are being added. Wilhelm is self-performing the concrete and architectural board form walls, and the steel division is erecting the structural steel. Poynter Sheet Metal
is performing the HVAC.
Phase III includes the south building and has two segments. The first includes the addition of a 12,000-square-foot concrete and structural steel framed museum gallery with a 140-seat theater. Wilhelm is self-performing the concrete and structural steel on this portion of the project as well.
For an artistic touch, both the north and south buildings are wrapped in aluminum and steel-framed curtainwall with custom fritted glass and custom corrugated metal panels, as if one large beautiful blanket of glittering glass was wrapped clear around the buildings. This creates a transparent effect, opening up the museum to the community.
Only one vendor can produce the custom frit glass.
“It is dual reflective in a shape and pattern still under design,” Grosvenor said. “It will be mounted in a custom steel framed curtainwall system.”
The second portion of Phase III includes a 40,000-square-foot interior renovation of the existing museum art galleries, office and back of house spaces.
French and Grosvenor agree the most important part of this intricate project has been in the planning.
“Wilhelm has been working with the museum and architect, K. Norman Berry Associates Architects
, on budgeting, estimating and scheduling the entire project,” French said.
Another unique feature of this project is the architectural board formed walls.
“They’ve never been built with this exact design,” Grosvenor said. “Our team created more than twenty mock-ups with various design changes and concepts incorporated to achieve the look that has been approved.”
Work completed thus far includes the Enabling Project, which consisted of site clearing and demolition, a new entrance to the parking garage, revised utility routing and an underground detention system for the storm drainage. Also completed is the central utility building, which provides steam and chilled water for the existing building as well as new north and south additions.
While Wilhelm progresses in its management of this impressive project, the art museum has closed and moved to a temporary home in downtown Louisville’s NuLu district. The museum is still actively introducing new exhibits and family activities while staff and patrons anxiously await the completion of the museum’s new home.
The museum’s reopening is scheduled for March 2016.