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Gluckman Tang transforms historic sailors' dormitory into Staten Island Museum
Nineteeth-century building is preserved and adapted with a sophisticated design aesthetic intended to exceed the museum’s goals of preservation, history, and respect for the natural environment. © Graham Hebel, Gluckman Tang Architects.

NEW YORK, NY.- On September 19, Gluckman Tang Architects’ (formerly Gluckman Mayner Architects) $31 million renovation of Building A at Snug Harbor on Staten Island opened to the public for the first time as the expanded home of the Staten Island Museum. The museum is located in a former dormitory for sailors that was originally built in 1879. The project has been certified LEED Gold and is part of New York City’s Department of Design and Construction’s Design and Construction Excellence program.

Premier museum architect Gluckman Tang Architects is known for its contemporary interventions in historic contexts. The Museo Picasso Málaga, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, and the Andy Warhol Museum are among the historic structures that Gluckman Tang has transformed into celebrated and popular museums.

“We are proud of our role in creating a beautiful space for the Museum’s diverse collection within a distinguished, historic landmark,” said Richard Gluckman, FAIA. “We shared the Museum’s goal of creating a welcoming and engaging space for art, sciences and natural history that also preserves the local history and environment.”

The renovated Greek Revival building expands the museum to over 18,000 square feet of useable space, including four climate-controlled galleries, an auditorium/performance venue, and classroom space for school children.

In keeping with Gluckman Tang’s aesthetic, the design is contemporary, with detailing that is respectful of the building’s history. The dilapidated interior was completely removed, save one historic staircase, leaving only the original exterior walls. Gluckman Tang restored the facades, the original cast iron staircase, and the historic wood windows and surrounds with integral shutters.

The museum meets the stringent environmental standards of the American Museum Association, allowing it to borrow from other museums’ collections. Sustainable measures include a closed loop geothermal system, which reduces energy consumption and operational costs. The original wood framing was salvaged and remilled to be used/for wood flooring in the galleries. To achieve the necessary climate control, Gluckman Tang designed a "building within a building.” The designers retained the landmarked windows, and inserted an innovative inner glass wall to create a climate-controlled cavity. The cavity allows natural light to flow through the space. Visitors can view the original windows from inside the galleries.

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