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Museum Holds Public Forum on Expansion Plans

The Speed Art Museum in the early stages of planning a major expansion, and Saturday at 10 a.m. it’s holding a public forum to share some of its ideas. The forum will be the second since the museum announced the project’s main designer — the Los Angeles-based wHY Architecture. Last October, it announced that Reed Hilderbrand Associates of Massachusetts would design the landscape.

Museum director Charles Venable says there will be some sketches of renovated spaces they’ve envisioned.

“This is the first time anybody, for example, will get to see a sneak preview of what the landscape might look like,” he says. “We’ll be talking about the site that abuts the University of Louisville and the new sculpture park we’re putting in, as well as a new public piazza and the entire surroundings of the building.”

Venable says the museum has begun raising money for a $50 million-dollar campaign for the renovation

Venable says the expansion is really part of a larger project.

“We’re really now talking about a master plan that will be executed between now and let’s say 10 years now, he says, “and the  big components of that that will guide the museum’s expanse through time.”

Venable says the architects have already incorporated many ideas from U of L students into preliminary designs.

“Hearing some of the students talk about, well, they would love to see more glass. If there’s an event going on, you want to see life and people inside that building,” he says. “And they said, well you know, if we have a place to sit, if we had Wi-Fi accessibility, there would be a reason for us to stay and linger more.”

Venable says the museum plans to break ground on the expansion next year.

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Arts and Humanities Local News WFPL News Department Podcast

Speed Museum Chooses wHY Architecture

Click here for Elizabeth Kramer’s interview with The Speed Art Museum’s Charles Venable and wHY Architecture’s principal architect, Kulapat Yantrasast.

The Speed Art Museum has chosen an architectural firm to design the expansion of its building on the University of Louisville campus. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer reports.

A Los Angeles-based firm — wHY Architecture — will design the expansion of the Speed Art Museum. The decision is the latest in a multi-year process that has involved staff and board members interviewing many architects and visiting museums around the world.

Museum director Charles Venable says wHY Architecture came with an impressive resume.

“They have enormous amount of experience working on specialized museum buildings,” Venable says. “And, practically speaking, museums are complicated places.”

Venable says that after reviewing many architectural firms, representatives from the Speed found that wHY Architecture understood the problems the museum has in its current building and that it proposed possible and appealing solutions for the interior and exterior spaces that could attract people to and through the gallery space.

Venable says the expansion will be an expensive as well as notable project.

“Clearly, this will be one of the most important architectural expansions in the history of Louisville,” he says “So, we’re talking about something in the tens of millions of dollars.”

The firm designed The Grand Rapids Art Museum, the world’s first certified “green” museum, and has redesigned gallery space at the Art Institute of Chicago. Venable says a design should be unveiled later this year and construction should start next year. The new space should open in late 2012.