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National Academy of Design, New York, NY

Entrance on 5th Avenue

Program Diagram

Ground Floor Plan

Museum Lobby | Photo: Bilyana Dimitrova

Ground Floor Gallery | Photo: Andy Ryan

Ground Floor Gallery | Photo: Andy Ryan

4th Floor Salon Gallery | Photo: Andy Ryan

4th Floor Salon Gallery | Photo: Andy Ryan

Henry Justin Gallery | Photo: Andy Ryan

4th Floor 5th Avenue Gallery

Faculty Gallery | Photo: Andy Ryan

89th Street School Entrance

School Lobby | Photo: Andy Ryan

School Lobby with Moveable Partition | Photo: Andy Ryan

School Lobby Reception Desk | Photo: Andy Ryan

School Lobby | Photo: Andy Ryan

The National Academy Museum and School (the ‘Academy’), founded in 1825 by a group of artists, holds one of the world’s largest collections of American art. Housed in an historic townhouse on 5th Avenue with a large wing fronting 89th Street, the institution is at a transitional moment in its history. Addressing both an antiquated structure and an evolving cultural landscape, the Academy is moving forward with significant changes to both its physical environs and its institutional identity. The Academy’s goals necessitated a complete review of their buildings with an eye towards modernizing and reorganizing them to best support the varied programs of the Academy, Museum and School.

Working in collaboration, BSC and the Academy developed a program of strategic renovations to realize their facility’s potential within a limited budget and timeframe, including five primary strategies:

Upgrading and modernizing the 2nd and 4th floor galleries in the 5th Avenue building and the 3 East 89th Street wing to better display historic and contemporary works of art.

Replacing a gift shop at the 5th Avenue Museum entrance with a Visitor Orientation Center and Gallery to introduce the institution to the public.

Reconfiguring the School’s ground floor at 5 East 89th Street to provide an exhibition gallery and public assembly space supporting educational programming. Movable partitions create flexible settings for critiques, seminars and art display.

Renovating a previously back-of-house service passage between the School and Museum to create a linear faculty gallery connecting, physically and conceptually, the two faces of the institution.

Upgrading the exterior facades of the building to proclaim a newly revitalized institution and enhance street presence with banners at the Fifth Avenue Museum entrance, signage at the School entry, new lighting and facade cleaning and restoration.

The renovations took place while the school was fully operational, providing continuity for Academy staff and students and maintaining an important source of revenue. While the Academy occupies an important site on Museum Mile, local jurisdictions place formidable strictures on development affecting the essentially residential character of the neighborhood. BSC successfully shepherded the project through the local Community Board, the advocacy groups Civitas and Friends of the Upper East Side, and the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Completed 2011
AWARDS: Friends of the Upper East Side Renaissance Award
PROJECT TEAM: Timothy Bade, Jane Stageberg, Martin Cox, Jose Rodriguez, Laura Messier