Art of the Americas Wing, Boston Museum of Fine Arts

Art of the Americas Wing, MFA

Foster + Partners with CBT, 2010

Harleston Parker Medal, 2014

Preservation Achievement Award, 2011

This new wing seems to slide effortlessly into the fabric of the existing museum, providing new exhibition and public space while reconnecting the interior to the Fenway. Although it lacks Foster’s usual brash modernist inventiveness, it forms an elegant backdrop for the art, and those who have come to view it.

To accommodate the need for new space on a largely built out site, Foster enclosed one of the museums two outdoor courtyards, turning it into a vast open café and gathering space. The new Art of the America’s wing terminates this new axis with four floors of stacked galleries. A linear ceiling with baffled glazing knits the two together as an elegant stairway dances back and forth beneath it. The galleries are as intimate as the courtyard is over-scaled – perhaps appropriate given the need for both public events and private contemplation in today’s great museums.

One consequence of the new volume’s somewhat bloated proportions is that the landscaped remnants of the once exterior courtyard are squeezed too tightly between its walls and those of the original museum around it. The brilliance of the addition’s original conception begins to get lost in the monumentality of its implementation.