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Westmoreland museum in elite company for its redesign

Mary Pickels
gtrLIVurban1083017
Tribune-Review
The Westmoreland Museum of American Art

The Westmoreland Museum of American Art is included in a recent “top 10” list among international museum designs reaching out to their surrounding communities.

The Greensburg site was on Urban Land Institute’s list of 10 projects, all completed in the last five years, that include adaptive uses of historic buildings and expansions and additions aimed at making their buildings more welcoming to visitors.

The list includes a new museum sheltering a medieval chamber, a facility inserted under a culturally significant square and a maritime museum opening access to a formerly industrial waterfront.

The article in the institute’s magazine, Urban Land, cites architects’ ongoing efforts to construct or remodel museums to serve as both “eye-catching icons” and revenue generators.

Recent efforts focus on enhancing public access, a sensitive response to surrounding architectural context, including open spaces and event plazas, and factoring sustainable design principles into design, the article notes.

The Westmoreland’s recent renovation, completed in 2015, features a complete remodeling of the 30,000-square-foot existing building, which first opened in 1959.

The overall size increased by 44 percent with a 13,287-square-foot addition. New galleries, community and educational-programming spaces and a dramatic, cantilevered wing that provides expanded space for traveling exhibitions, are part of the effort.

The building is LEED certified, resulting from a transformational design by Susan T. Rodriguez/Ennead Architects of New York City.

The Urban Land article cites Ennead’s efforts to “make the front facade (formerly featuring four large stone columns) less formal and more inviting.”

Those efforts include removal of the columns and insertion of three vertical glass panels at the entrance to add natural light.

A landscaped garden and sculpture garden surrounding the structure strengthens community connections, the article notes.

Others making the list are the Design Museum in London, the Exploratorium in San Francisco, the National Museum in Szczecin, Poland, the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., Porsgrunn Maritime Museum in Norway, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Ky., Waterford Medieval Museum in Ireland, and Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.

Mary Pickels is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-836-5401 or [email protected] or via Twitter @MaryPickels.

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