According to the Städel Museum website, in 1815, ‘the Frankfurt banker and spice merchant Johann Friedrich Städel (1728–1816) bequeathed his house on the Rossmarkt in central Frankfurt, his art and book collection and his whole fortune to the foundation named after him. His will stipulates that the “Städelsches Kunstinstitut” shall from henceforth be accessible to the citizens of Frankfurt as a museum and art school (today’s Städelschule).’
The Städel Museum moved to this riverside building in 1878 – the building modified several times, including major post-war renovations from 1947-63.
In 2008 Schneider + Schumacher won a competition (with an international jury chaired by Louisa Hutton), with a proposal to bury a new extension below a reconstituted lawn on axis with the existing building – a centrally mounded landscape punctuated with 195 circular skylights (1.5 – 2.5m in diameter).
This 2,600 square metre space now houses the 20th Century collection.
The design is a clever resolution that reinstates green public space while also providing the much-needed exhibition space.
The gallery roof is a concrete slab supported on only 12 columns. Further extensive details can be found in this issue of Details publication.
To the west is the 1990 extension by Austrian architect, Gustav Peichl, which now forms a backdrop to the new lawn.
Along with the new extension, the entry, foyer and general circulation through the building, have all been greatly improved providing much clearer travel paths through the entire building.
The more traditional gallery spaces have been stripped back and restored with a more processional path passing through them.
The connection to the Peichl extension has also been appropriately engaged.
The eye is drawn down the beautiful internal stairs towards the new lower extension.
Finally, a new sculpted concrete stair, with a mosaic of mirror tiles as a backdrop, allows patrons to move to the new underground gallery level.
Patrons arrive at the new light-filled gallery space where the 12 support columns are concealed within ‘temporary’ walls that can be re-built if, and when required.
The skylights allow natural light, but also incorporate diffusion screens and blackout blinds, as well as lighting. These work together with other environmental measures like the geothermal heat pumps and ventilation systems. to provide a balanced environment for the display of sensitive contemporary art works.
Place: Städel Museum
Architect: Schneider + Schumacher
Photographer: Stephen Varady
Map: Städel Museum Map
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