The first stage of Foster + Partners’ masterplan will establish its key principles: the sympathetic setting of a ‘museum in a garden’, with the original axial arrangement re-established to unify the visitor experience, and the creation of new public facilities.
The new masterplan restores the clarity of Wyeth’s plan by reinstating the main entrance on a new street frontage on South Dixie Highway, in West Palm Beach Florida, to the west – visitors will once again be able to see through the entire building via a new, transparent grand hall and refurbished glass and iron courtyard doors. The new entrance is signalled by three new double-height pavilions, unified with the re-worked existing wing by a shared palette of white stone.
The pavilions house a state-of-the-art auditorium, event space and a ‘grand hall’ – the social hub of the museum. The design also includes a new museum shop and a new restaurant with al-fresco garden seating which, like the new pavilion spaces, can operate independently of the museum to activate the campus throughout the day and at night. A metal roof canopy floats above the pavilions and projects to shade the entrance plaza.
The structure is gently tapered to visually reduce its profile, while providing stability to withstand hurricane winds. The canopy’s gentle lustre is designed to cast diffuse patterns of light in an abstracted reflection of people and flowing water below. Linear pools create a tranquil setting for the entrance plaza, masking the sound of traffic, which is visually set apart by a hedge. A curved opening in the roof accommodates the branches of a mature ficus tree and a further light well above the lobby illuminates and defines the new entrance.