Since it opened in 1995, SITE Santa Fe has mixed permanent exhibitions with an international contemporary art biennial, pushing the limits of expression in the New Mexico capital. In 2014, the museum tapped New York–based SHoP Architects to expand its 20,000-square-foot home, incorporating the art experience into surrounding parks and public spaces. The resulting machined and muscular structure will break ground in August 2016.
SITE sought to create “an iconic new spatial presence” with its addition. SHoP delivered with a low-slung mass that responds to the flat desert topography while using slanting forms to lend a sense of movement. The highly articulated, perforated metal facade is layered to give the structure depth and respond materially to the area’s railroad heritage. If you squint, the entire structure appears to be a locomotive steaming across the desert terrain.
“Art doesn’t have to be experienced in isolation,” Christopher Sharples, principal at SHoP, said in a statement. “The building itself opens up to the neighboring park, the life of the Railyard district, and gives SITE a greater presence in the landscape of the city as a whole.”
SHoP’s addition will bring 15,000 square feet of new interior and exterior spaces that flow visually with expanses of glass. The projecting envelope creates a monumental entry court and rear porch punctuated with sculpture. Inside, SHoP stressed flexible spaced. The main SITElab exhibition hall will be expanded, a lecture hall doubles as an event space, and an education lab will bring art to local students.