New York City’s Selldorf Architects is the sole North American firm in the running to lead the $34.7-to-$41.7 million (£25-30 million) upgrade of the Grade I-listed Sainsbury Wing at London’s National Gallery on Trafalgar Square. Completed in 1991, the Postmodern Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates-designed wing serves as the main entrance to the National Gallery and will be subject to an expansive revamp as part of a series of capital improvements collectively dubbed the NG200 Project. The project was launched to coincide with the bicentenary of the fabled British art museum in 2024.
The NG200 Project, which also includes refreshes of public spaces surrounding the sprawling museum complex and a new research center in addition to the “sensitive interventions” planned for the Sainsbury Wing, is the largest commission by the National Gallery in nearly two decades, as noted by The Architects’ Journal. Per the museum, an “initial phase” of the project will be completed in time for the bicentenary.
Joining Selldorf Architects on the six-team shortlist, which was assembled as part of an international design competition organized by Malcolm Reading Consultants, are: David Chipperfield Architects, David Kohn Architects, Asif Kahn, Caruso St John Architects, and Witherford Watson Mann Architects. All of the aforementioned practices, with the exception of Selldorf Architects, are London-headquartered although the multidisciplinary teams themselves are comprised of firms that span the globe. For example, the Selldorf Architects-led team includes U.K.-based Purcell, multinational engineering firm Arup, global firm AEA Consulting, and Swiss-founded Vogt Landscape Architects, which maintains offices in Zurich, Paris, Berlin, and London. Founded by German-born architect Annabelle Selldorf in 1988, Selldorf Architects is highly regarded for its careful updates of historic museum buildings, including the ongoing expansion/renovation of the Frick Collection in New York. (The full team list can be found at the bottom of this page.)
As noted in an announcement released by the National Gallery, the “extremely high quality of the submissions” prompted a selection panel assembled by the museum to raise the number of shortlisted teams, originally set to be capped at five, to six. That panel is comprised of author and architecture critic Edwin Heathcote, structural engineer Jane Wernick, senior design director for the Prince’s Foundation, Ben Bolgar, and Malcolm Reading, along with Dr. Gabriele Finaldi, director of the National Gallery, along with three museum trustees including chair Lord Hall of Birkenhead CBE.
Remarked Finaldi in a statement: “We were impressed and delighted with the high quality of the submissions we received. It was not an easy task to reach the shortlist, but we are confident that we have found six teams that will produce a range of different approaches to excite and inspire us.”
“This is a significant moment in the development of the National Gallery as we look forward to the recovery of our arts and cultural institutions, our city and our country. It is important that we choose a team who we can work with collaboratively and that shares our vision for the future. I’m looking forward to seeing the next phase of submissions,” added Finaldi.
Now that a shortlist has been announced, the teams will now submit further details of their design approach and partake in individual interviews with the selection panel. The selection of a final team is expected to be made public this July. The open call for submissions was launched in February of this year.
The National Gallery currently remains closed to the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The full shortlisted teams are:
- Asif Khan with AKT II, Atelier Ten, Bureau Veritas, Donald Insall Associates, Donald Hyslop, Gillespies, Joseph Henry, Kenya Hara, and Plan A Consultants
- Caruso St John Architects with Arup, Alan Baxter, muf architecture/art, and Alliance CDM
- David Chipperfield Architects with Publica, Expedition, Atelier Ten, iM2, and Plan A Consultants
- David Kohn Architects with Max Fordham, Price & Myers, Purcell, and Todd Longstaffe‐Gowan
- Selldorf Architects with Purcell, Vogt Landscape Architects, Arup, and AEA Consulting
- Witherford Watson Mann Architects with Price and Myers, Max Fordham, Grant Associates, Purcell, and David Eagle Ltd