Safdie Architects unveils their plans to expand the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Arts in Bentonville, Arkansas. The rich experience of art through the museum expansion will increase by 50 percent. The extension aims to increase the facility spaces and add around 10000 square feet to the existing 20,000 square feet museum. 

After its opening on 11.11.11, the expansion after a decade enriches the visitor’s experiences and increases the spaces to develop a community value to the place. 

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Crystal Bridges Museum Expansion by Safdie Architects, @www.crystalbridges.org
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Crystal Bridges Museum Expansion by Safdie Architects, @www.crystalbridges.org

The Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville came into existence due to the need for art in Arkansas. The delicate architecture along the extraordinary landscape holds the representation of American art. 

The pavilions welcome art and nature over a spanning ravine and two streams that form a backdrop to the spaces. The intertwined relationship with the site makes the visitor connect with the surroundings. The conscious design with the site factors results in the seamless integration of people, architecture, art, and nature. 

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Crystal Bridges Museum, @www.safdiearchitects.com
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Relationship of Museum with the Nature, @www.safdiearchitects.com

The Crystal Bridges Museum, in its ten years of completion, has been a destination of community involvement. The pond on which the structure lies bifurcates itself to the north and south pond, through a dam. The diverse range of galleries dedicated to the American arts acquaints a restaurant eleven on a bridge structure. At the north pond, two bridge structures hold galleries, with receptions, dining, and hospitality services. 

The galleries house a comprehensive American art range ranging from its size, scale, and period. The south pond encloses the Great Hall, a multipurpose public space, from three sides. 

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Crystal Bridges Museum at Present, @www.safdiearchitects.com

The settled structures into the sloped terrain help protect the existing landscape. The initial design thought was, developing the place on the hilltop on flat land, but it bothered the existing trees. Instead, the museum stands throughout the ravine with the existing trees covering the surrounding and providing an enclosed atmosphere. The forested site’s area is around 120 acres, and it plays a crucial role in enhancing visitor’s experience. There are a variety of public outdoor places that intermingle with the museum. 

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Sketch of Museum by Moshe Safdie, @www.safdiearchitects.com

Courtyards and promenades with formal and informal sculptures accompany the water edge. The walking trails and picnic grounds compose the public spaces that connect well to the main complex. The circulation path around the complex and galleries is an important feature, as visualized by Moshe Safdie. The bridge structures have a great view of the ponds and gardens nearby. At present, the on-site spaces experience warm light and diffused daylight. 

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The Museum Galleries, @www.safdiearchitects.com

The architecture celebrates the community’s history and natural beauty. The material chosen to develop the pavilions showcases nature around Arkansas- The Natural State. The construction is with concrete, paired beautifully with timber and copper roofing. Interestingly, the wood is Arkansas pinewood converted into laminated beams, which is the most advanced method. 

The craft tradition of Arkansas is visible around the structure through intelligent construction methods. The walking trails humanizes the entire site, along with its building materials.

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The Materials Used, @www.safdiearchitects.com

The new construction shall begin by early 2022 by the Safdie Architects and expected to be completed by 2024. The expansion would harmoniously integrate with existing pavilions and gallery spaces. The focus given on the public outdoor spaces would stand unbothered while adding new expanses amidst the startling nature. The community and travelers coming to Bentonville have enjoyed being surrounded by art, and the expansion focuses on the same feeling. 

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Expected Night View of Expansion by Safdie Architects, @www.dezeen.com

The impact of Crystal Bridges was commendable, and it became the reason for expansion so the society could enjoy the offerings of art and nature even more. The Safdie Architects plan to incorporate more galleries, educational areas, a café, indoor and outdoor gathering spaces, and a space for various events within the new structures. 

The new pavilions being a perfect addition to the existing structures, nuzzle into the sloped landscape while using the regional materials. The additional spaces add connecting links between the galleries, surrounding outdoor spaces, and trails. 

The features by Safdie Architects in the expansion plans are as follows:

  • The sixty-five percent increase in gallery areas will allow art presentation through two gallery pavilions. 
  • An addition to existing spaces is for temporary art exhibits and new places for community displays. 
  • A dedicated floor for community gatherings, art studios, flexible zones for all age groups, and even educational facilities is a part of the extension.
  • Additionally, a new bridge acting as a connection between two galleries could have art space that is not sensitive to light. 
  • The bridge structure would create a sense of openness, celebrated all around the museum, with floor-to-ceiling views of nature around, and would offer new spaces of interaction and a new cafe. 
  • A circular event plaza for outdoor community programs and performances is also a part of planning.
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Expected Spaces of Museum Expansion, @www.crystalbridges.org
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Expected Museum Galleries after Expansion, @www.crystalbridges.org
Kavya Turaga
Author

Kavya Turaga is a third year architecture student from Bangalore. She believes that every building has a story and a soul, which helps in understanding its unique character. She finds inspiration in the smallest of things and is passionate about architectural photography.

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