Skip to main content

Project

Albright-Knox Art Gallery Extension

The Albright-Knox Art Gallery is a significant Buffalo landmark and an internationally recognized art institution.

Lead Contact

Project Details

Project Partners
OMA & Cooper Robertson
Owner
Buffalo Fine Arts Commission
Location
Buffalo, New York
Completion Date
Area
91,000 ft²
The Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York. Courtesy OMA
The Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York. Courtesy OMA
The Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York. Courtesy OMA
Reconstructing the cornice and re-waterproofing the plaza below. Thornton Tomasetti
The Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York. Thornton Tomasetti

Overview

The original Albright-Knox Art Gallery building in Buffalo, New York was designed by Edward B. Greene and opened in 1905. The gallery is sited in the historic Delaware Park designed by Fredrick Law Olmstead, and both the gallery and park are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The original gallery is a two-story white marble Greek-revival structure designed after the ancient Erectheum in Athens, with seventy-four two-story tall Ionic columns, a batten seam sheet metal copper roof and twin porches with caryatids executed by sculptor Augustus St. Gaudens. The gallery’s 1962 southern addition was designed Gordon Bunshaft (Skidmore Owens and Merrill) and is an excellent example of Modern architecture with its white marble clad unornamented base and floating glass auditorium.

We are providing structural renewal, envelope renewal and historic preservation services to the Buffalo Fine Arts Commission for the gallery’s expansion and modernization. We are also providing façade engineering and waterproofing services to OMA and Cooper Robertson for the gallery’s new 91,000-thousand-square-foot north addition.

Renewal & Restoration Highlights

  • We performed a condition assessment of the facades, roofs and below-grade areas, which assisted the client in obtaining grants for façade related repairs.
  • We designed details to replace the single-ply membrane that was installed in the 1990’s over the terra cotta book tile substrate with a new monolithic liquid reinforced system. We also designed repairs for the batten seam sheet metal roof that extended the life of the historic fabric. Built-in gutters were reframed and lined with new pressure treated wood and the marble cornices were reset with new stainless steel anchors.
  • Our forensic analysis correlated that water infiltration at the built-in gutters at the roof was causing stone displacement at the base of the structure. The displaced stones were carefully removed, tagged and stored for reinstallation after the backup masonry was repaired.
  • We coordinated laboratory testing of the historic marble that revealed that the original stones were highly resistant to freeze-thaw degradation.
  • We specified and coordinated laboratory testing of the stone to verify the existence of organic coatings and to perform accelerated patina testing to help understand the natural yellowing of the dolomitic marble.
  • We participated in public hearings for both the Buffalo Preservation Board (BPB) and the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) for approvals concerning restoration strategies.

Façade engineering Highlights

  • The façade scope for the new addition entails design of cladding, glazing and entrances as well as interfaces with and new openings in the existing building and a bridge connector.
  • All the glazing and cladding systems are detailed to meet more stringent interior temperature, relative humidity and lighting requirements in order to protect the fragile nature of the art contents as well as meet human thermal comfort requirements.
  • The glazing systems are stick built, aluminum, thermally broken, toggle systems that use insulated, laminated, low-e coated and argon infilled glass with warm edge spacers.
  • The main feature of the new building is the “veil” consisting of a glazed steel and aluminum diagrid that wraps the entire second and third floors. We helped optimize and engineer the geometry to reduce the complexity, helping to simplify fabrication and constructability while maintaining the design intent of slender profiles and small sightlines.
  • Our recommendation to use flat glass instead of hot and cold bent glass required by the original geometry resulted in an overall cost reduction.
  • All the sloped glass at the veil has a custom digital frit that combined with interior shading and HVAC will help control solar heat gains and ensure human thermal comfort.
  • In order to reduce the number and size of structural columns at the ground floor and at the bridge, the steel supporting the façade is also used as building structural system. The steel is designed by the SEOR and included on the structural drawings but fabricated and installed by the glazing contractor to meet the more stringent glazing tolerance requirements.