The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. © Chuck Choi

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston



Weidlinger Associates, which merged with Thornton Tomasetti in September 2015, provided structural engineering for the Art of the Americas Wing at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), a project that encompassed significant changes to the existing Museum. The project included construction of a dramatic glass and steel jewel box over east courtyard of museum as well as new exhibit and support areas.

One of the main strategies was to reestablish the north-south axis of the MFA’s century-old building on Huntington Avenue, which brings visitors directly into the heart of the complex and improves navigation among the various wings. The expansion and renovation also integrate the Museum more completely with the Back Bay Fens portion of Frederick Law Olmsted’s Emerald Necklace, a chain of nine Boston parks.

The 121,307-square-foot Art of the Americas Wing accommodates upwards of 5,000 works—more than doubling the number previously on view. The expansion and renovation project also provides additional space for the Museum’s collections, exhibitions, and educational programs. It increases the building’s total square footage by 28 percent.

The wing, located on the east side of the Museum, features a central glass building flanked by two pavilions of glass and granite, one north and one south. The extensive use of glass allows passersby to see inside the Museum while offering its patrons views of the surrounding park. The top floor provides sweeping vistas of Boston, from Fenway Park to the Back Bay skyline. In addition to the wing, a key component of the project was the creation of the soaring glass Ruth and Carl J. Shapiro Family Courtyard.

The upgrade required significant reconstruction of the main entrances, and demolition and renovation of specific areas of the existing structure contributed to the project’s complexity.

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