Breaking Ground for Extensive Renovation at The Frick + The Frick Madison, a Temporary Home in the Breuer Building




Elevation view of the model; photo: Michael Bodycomb. Image via Selldorf Architects

As The Frick embarks on an extensive renovation, it continues to honor its original design plan when it was the private home of Henry Clay Frick in 1914. This year, The Frick will break ground on repurposing nearly 60,000 square-feet. Let’s take a look at the plans from Selldorf Architects and Beyer, Blinder, Belle.

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In the meantime, visitors can enjoy The Frick Madison, the institution’s temporary home beginning early 2021. The Frick Madison is the former home of the Whitney Museum of American Art and Met Breuer, located at 945 Madison Avenue at 75th Street, NYC.

Frick mansion featured in Architecture, November, 1914; The Frick Collection/Frick Art Reference Library Archives

A central aspect of Selldorf Architects’ design is to recapture existing space in order to minimize new construction. They will be repurposing nearly 60,000 square feet as part of this project, transforming basement and administrative spaces, as well as the service yard behind the library, into areas for education, exhibitions, and programming. This includes the creation of a public passageway that unites the Frick’s collection and library for the first time, as well as a purpose-built auditorium that will be created in large part by transforming existing basement spaces. The project repurposes 27,000 square-feet of new construction.

Visitors to The Frick will continue to enter through the original 1930s museum entrance on 70th Street, moving into a more open reception hall.

Proposed First Floor Plan

From the reception hall, the public will now have the choice of three routes through the museum, including the Frick’s Garden Court and permanent collection galleries on the main floor; to a newly created special exhibition area which includes a large gallery and two smaller spaces for temporary shows; and access to the second floor by way of a new bank of elevators or an elegant new staircase.

Proposed Second Floor Plan

The new renovation will allow for visitors to access a suite of rooms on the second floor of the original Frick residence, which will be transformed into gallery spaces. This area has never before been accessed by visitors. Also on the second floor, a seating area, museum shop and the institution’s first cafe’.

Image via Beyer Blinder Belle

This second-floor area served as private living quarters of the Frick family, and has been used as administrative offices. Now, open to the public, these historic rooms retain many of their elegant architectural details and decorative finishes including fireplaces, mahogany paneling, a series of Edwardian chinoiserie painted ceilings, and the Central park views.

Entrance Hall looking North. Images via Selldorf Architects

The new design also allows for public and educational programs, including a dedicated main-floor education center. The education spaces will provide a link and public passageway between The Frick Collection and Frick Art Reference Library.

Image via Beyer, Blinder, Belle

The library will be enhanced with a new digital art history lab and new public space for research and programs.

Main Floor special exhibition gallery. Images via Selldorf Architects

A new 220-seat, state-of-the-art auditorium will be created underground, transforming the existing multilevel basement area currently being used for storage and old infrastructure under the 70th Street Garden. Reconfiguring the Music Room, this will enable The Frick to present exhibitions in dialogue with its permanent collection, without having to de-install the permanent collection galleries. This will include a concert series, lectures, and symposia.

Reception Hall looking into 70th Street Garden. Images via Selldorf Architects

The Frick will restore the 70th Street Garden in keeping with Russell Page’s original design intent, an aspect of the project led by preservation architects Beyer Blinder Belle, who are working with public garden designer Lynden B. Miller and landscape architects MPFP. Furthermore, as many of the new and renovated spaces on 70th Street overlook the garden, the project offers new prospects from which to enjoy it.

The Frick image via Selldorf Architects

View a Virtual Tour in Full Screen Here.

Proposed ground-breaking should take place in early 2021, with pre-construction preparation beginning in the fall of 2020.

Design architect, Selldorf Architects

Executive Architect, Beyer Blinder Belle

While we wait, The Frick will take up a two-year temporary residence in early 2021 at Frick Madison, 945 Madison Avenue at 75th Street, the Marcel Breuer building, which was recently home to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Met Breuer. Don’t miss Barkley L. Hendricks: Portraits, on view September, 2023, and the gorgeous murals/portraits by Nicolas Party.