New Orleans-based firm Eskew+Dumez+Ripple has unveiled designs for the much-anticipated $45 million renovation and expansion of the Bruce Museum. Located in downtown Greenwich, Connecticut, the 107-year-old institution for arts, science, and natural history hasn’t been significantly upgraded in 26 years, but that’s about to change as it prepares to double in size.
The design team, alongside Chicago studio jones/kroloff, will redesign the museum’s existing facility—a 30,000-square-feet private residence from the 1850s—and add new, state-of-the-art exhibition, education, and community spaces and more storage room. The result will be a seamlessly-connected, 70,000-square-foot structure, nicknamed the New Bruce, centered around a brand new three-story wing that will open onto the adjacent 30-acre Bruce Park.
For the new wing, Eskew+Dumez+Ripple will create a contemporary look that plays off the geology of the surrounding region. The facade will be clad in cast stone and glass with striations that mimic Connecticut’s coastal rock quarries. The interior will hold a new, public entrance lobby, a large lecture hall, and an events space. According to the architects, the design, like the museum itself, is intended to be a “repository for exploring the complex relationships between art and science. The Bruce is conceived of as a stone monolith that is carved and excavated to create a monument that celebrates the geology of the site and its impact in shaping the culture of Connecticut.”
Reed Hilderbrand will revamp the landscape surrounding the Bruce Museum in an effort to connect it more strategically with Bruce Park. One of the boldest ways they’ll do this is by outfitting a central courtyard in the middle of the building between the lobby and gallery spaces to immerse visitors in lush greenery regardless of whether they are outside or indoors. Additionally, Reed Hilderbrand will preserve and restore the tree canopy around the museum and create a clear circulation system with a guided path for museum-goers to view outdoor sculptures.
Renovation work on the current gallery areas began last month and is expected to wrap up in early 2020 following the completion of the Permanent Science Galleries. Once open, the expanded art galleries will allow The Bruce to host larger exhibitions, as well as showcase more of the museum’s 15,000-piece permanent collection, much of which was previously hidden away in its basement. Construction on the new wing is expected to begin next summer.