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The Studio Museum in Harlem to break ground in late fall 2018 for its new home
Cross Section Perspective from Lenox Avenue Courtesy Adjaye Associates.

NEW YORK, NY.- Thelma Golden, Director and Chief Curator of The Studio Museum in Harlem, and Raymond J. McGuire, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, today announced that the historic groundbreaking for the Museum’s new building, designed by Adjaye Associates in collaboration with Cooper Robertson, will take place during the 50th anniversary year of 2018. The completion of design development and the success of the quiet phase of the fundraising effort now make it possible to envision a late fall 2018 start for construction of this new home for the Studio Museum, the premier center for contemporary artists of African descent, the principal visual art institution in Harlem, and a magnet for visitors from around the world.

With plans for the building having received a warm welcome from the community and enthusiasm and support from New York City officials, the Studio Museum today unveiled the design and made public a capital campaign led by the Board of Trustees, with a goal of $175 million to meet hard and soft construction costs, provide an operating and capital reserve, and build endowment. A range of education and community programs inaugurated as part of the celebration of the 50th anniversary will ensure that the Studio Museum remains a vital presence in Harlem and throughout the art world during the construction period.

Undertaken as a public-private initiative in partnership with the City of New York, the entirely new 82,000-square-foot building will rise on West 125th Street on the site of the current facility, a centuryold commercial building that was adapted for the Studio Museum in the early 1980s by late AfricanAmerican architect J. Max Bond Jr. The new building is designed to express the Museum’s core values of openness and engagement as they have been lived throughout a five-decade history of innovative and impactful exhibitions and programs, while also providing exceptional new spaces to elevate the Museum’s service to artists, audiences, the uniquely vibrant Harlem community, and the world of art.

Thelma Golden said, “We are thrilled to announce that during our 50th anniversary year, we will begin construction on the single biggest initiative the Studio Museum has ever undertaken, making David Adjaye’s brilliant design a reality. We look back with pride on our legacy, so much of which has been built within the space that Max Bond renovated for us. We look forward to constructing a building that provides unprecedented resources for our work and creates a superb new cultural landmark for Harlem and the entire City of New York.”

Support for the Studio Museum’s Building Project
The Studio Museum revealed that the quiet phase of fundraising has already achieved 70 percent of the capital campaign goal of $175 million, thanks to generous support from the City of New York as lead partner and to private individuals, foundations, and corporations. The City has committed $53.8 million toward construction of the new building, with funding coming from the Mayor’s Office, the City Council, and the Manhattan Borough President’s Office through the Department of Cultural Affairs. This includes over $13 million in new funding added in this year’s City capital budget, and the City Council is anticipated to commit an additional $9 million over the next two years. Other public and private funding, including a broad national coalition of philanthropists, business leaders, and art world leaders, accounts for another $62 million.

Raymond J. McGuire, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, said, “We are deeply grateful for the outpouring of support we have received to date from the City, our private donors, and the Trustees. In their generosity, they reflect and honor the feelings of artists and arts professionals, the Harlem community, and a public from around the world who are committed to the Studio Museum. Fifty years ago, our visionary founders answered the urgent and necessary call for this institution to come into existence. Since then, its work has proved to be instrumental in transforming the entire cultural landscape. Literally hundreds of vital artists, and the countless people who have been touched by their creations, can look back today and say in wonder and gratitude that, if not for the Studio Museum, the cultural world would be a vastly different place. Now, as we begin the next half-century of our history, we look forward in confidence to the great things we will do in our new building, designed especially to manifest our extraordinary mission and program.”

“For nearly fifty years, the Studio Museum has been a trailblazer in the cultural conversation, fostered the careers of emerging artists of African descent, and served as an anchor in Harlem,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “We are excited about the unique potential that the Museum’s new home brings with it. As they embark on creating a one-of-a-kind space to serve as a platform for the creative work of the artists from around the world, the Studio Museum is poised to have an even greater impact on the Harlem community, the City of New York, and the global cultural conversation.”

“The Studio Museum in Harlem is an iconic institution that is as vital and relevant as it has ever been in its nearly 50-year history,” said NYC Cultural Affairs Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl. “We are proud to make a major investment in the museum as it transforms itself into an even better platform for artists of African descent and an incubator for new talent. I applaud Thelma Golden, Ray McGuire and the Studio Museum Board for their inspired leadership and look forward to seeing David Adjaye’s visionary design become a reality.”

This support is echoed by the Museum’s newly formed Community Advisory Network, a group of Harlem stakeholders convened to work with the Museum to ensure that the needs and aspirations of neighborhood residents are heard and addressed. Members of the Community Advisory Network represent more than twenty stakeholder groups, including Community Board 10, the New York City Housing Authority, the New York City Parks Department, the Office of the Manhattan Borough President, the NYPD’s 28th Precinct, the New York Public Library’s George Bruce Branch, churches, educational institutions, fellow cultural organizations, Harlem service organizations, the 125th Street Business Improvement District, and alumni of the Studio Museum’s Artist-in-Residence program.

“For almost half a century, the Studio Museum has been a jewel of the Harlem community,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “I’m proud to support this great institution as it prepares to build a wonderful new home, so that it can do even more to represent Harlem with integrity and authenticity.”

Melissa Mark-Viverito, Speaker of the New York City Council, said, “The Studio Museum is helping inspire the next generation of artists of color while paying respect to the vibrant history of Upper Manhattan, including the El Barrio/East Harlem area. I am glad to invest in their success in serving diverse audiences, especially those in my district. The Council is proud to advance the Museum’s work as both a showplace of art and a remarkable incubator of creativity —and as we look toward a future vision of Harlem, we must continue to support all arts and cultural institutions along the 125th Street Corridor. I will continue to work with my colleagues on the Council to look for ways to preserve and promote the arts throughout the City.”

“The Studio Museum in Harlem is a shining example of how a culturally specific institution, deeply rooted in its own neighborhood, can also be a global leader in its outlook and impact,” said New York City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer. “The City’s significant investment in the Studio Museum is truly an investment in the future of the cultural sector in New York and shows how our capital investments in cultural organizations and institutions create place, identity and a future for the heart and soul of our City.”

Bill Perkins, City Council Member for District 9, said, “Whether you look at it from the viewpoint of education, the economy, civil rights and civil liberties, or the sheer joy of great art, The Studio Museum in Harlem is an institution we must support, now and in the future. It is truly our beacon—and with its new building, it will shine more brightly than ever.”

The Design of the New Studio Museum
The design for the new Studio Museum provides:

• an increase of approximately 115 percent in space for exhibiting art and conducting the Artistin-Residence program, from the existing 8,050 square feet to almost 17,300 square feet,

• an increase of some 47 percent in indoor space for education, public programs, and public amenities, from 6,340 square feet to more than 9,300 square feet,

• and an increase in outdoor space of 105 percent, from 3,900 square feet to almost 8,000 square feet.

The 82,000-square-foot structure will have:

• a lower level for presentations (lectures, screenings, performances, educational activities, etc.), a welcome center, a café, and public amenities,

• five floors at street level and above,

• and a roof terrace spanning the entire building.

Galleries for temporary exhibitions and the Studio Museum’s unparalleled permanent collection are provided on the second, third, and fourth floors. An education center occupies part of the third floor, adjacent to a double-height gallery with a barrel-vaulted ceiling. The fourth floor accommodates both an exhibition gallery and dedicated spaces for the signature Artist-inResidence program, which puts the “Studio” in the Museum’s name. Staff offices are located on the fifth floor, and the roof is designed for use as a terrace and event space. Niches on the facade on both the 125th and 124th Street sides of the building will display outdoor sculpture. Artworks will permeate the entire interior of the building as well—in the graciously proportioned formal galleries provided with fine-art temperature and humidity controls, and (for less sensitive objects) in the public corridors and common areas.

“It has been an honor to work alongside Thelma Golden, the Board of Trustees, and the entire Studio Museum team to craft a new home for the Studio Museum—one that will build on the museum’s incredible legacy and deepen its relationships with the local community and an expanding global audience. Above all, we have sought to create spaces that celebrate the rich heritage of the institution, its relationship with artists and its role as a pillar of Harlem’s cultural life. Inspired by the architectural character of the neighborhood and featuring various scales of gallery space that speak to the diverse needs of contemporary artists, the design seeks to ensure that artistic dialogue remains at the heart of the Museum,” said Sir David Adjaye.

Taking its cues from the brownstones, churches, and bustling sidewalks of Harlem, David Adjaye’s design provides the Studio Museum with a dynamic, sculptural facade that contrasts strongly with the surrounding commercial buildings. The building has a porous, welcoming presence at street level, a light-filled core that soars up through the entire interior, and a tiered public hall, which the architect has likened to an “inverted stoop” that invites people to step down from the street into a multiuse space that will be free and open to the public during Museum hours and used for presentations and informal gatherings.

The masonry-framed windows of Harlem’s vernacular architecture find an echo in the rhythmic composition of the facade, with its textured, precast concrete and windows of varying proportions. The radiant, soaring volumes of Harlem’s sanctuaries find a counterpart in the top-lit central hall, with its ample wall area for large-scale artworks and its switchback stair, which provides multiple lookout points from its landings. A wide set of pivoting glass doors, which can be opened in differing configurations, draws directly on the convivial bustle of West 125th Street by establishing a transparent secondary entrance that leads directly to the descending step/seats of the tiered public hall.

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