The fabled Mariinsky Theatre (www.mariinsky.ru) has opened a state-of-the-art concert hall in a former warehouse near its main stage on Theatre Square. When a disastrous fire nearly destroyed the building in 2003, the Mariinsky’s charismatic artistic director and conductor, Valery Gergiev, pushed to build a new permanent home for the orchestra. The warehouse was redone as a 1,100-seat hall by French architect Xavier Fabre, who designed cedar-lined walls to fit within the existing structure, which was then fine-tuned by Yasuhisa Toyota, the acoustician of Los Angeles’s acclaimed Walt Disney Concert Hall.
Kansas City, Missouri
Since the 1930’s, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art (www.nelson-atkins.org) has been famous for its Neoclassical building, which commands 22 acres of parkland dotted with large-scale sculptures such as Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen’s shuttlecocks. In June, the opening of the Bloch Building, designed by Steven Holl, will expand the museum’s size by 70 percent without intruding on the original structure or its surroundings. Holl buried part of the 840-foot-long wing in the property’s grassy hillside but allowed five glass-walled pavilions—he calls them "lenses"—to emerge from the landscape to bring daylight into the underground spaces. The largest of them flanks a reflecting pool and contains a lobby that leads to five levels of galleries.
The Seattle Art Museum (www.seattleartmuseum.org) took a more radical approach to enlarging its downtown building, a 1990’s concrete structure designed by Venturi, Scott Brown & Associates. Portland, Oregon-based Brad Cloepfil, of Allied Works Architecture, connected the museum’s interior to the lower floors of a new high-rise (housing Washington Mutual’s headquarters). When SAM reopens in May, 268,000 square feet of galleries will include its collections of contemporary, African, Aboriginal, and Oceanic art.