Groundbreaking set for new Aspen Art Museum
August 10, 2011
ASPEN – The Aspen Art Museum will host a groundbreaking ceremony for its new location at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 16, the nonprofit’s board of trustees announced late Tuesday.
Construction of the 30,000-square-foot Shigeru Ban-designed art museum will begin early next year. So far, the art museum has raised $45.7 in capital campaign funds for the project, according to a news release.
The Aspen Art Museum’s current location is 590 N. Mill St., near the banks of the Roaring Fork River. Its new location will put it in the heart of downtown Aspen, at the corner of South Spring Street and East Hyman Avenue.
The push to build the new museum has been steeped in controversy with origins dating back to 2007. That’s when the Aspen City Council denied an application to redevelop the current site of the former Wienerstube restaurant – located at the same location where the Aspen Art Museum will be built – with 47,000 square feet and three stories of commercial and residential space. The owner/developer of the site, 633 Spring Street LLC, contested the decision with a lawsuit.
In July 2010, however, city officials announced a settlement with the plaintiffs, in which the overall square footage was scaled back, and the museum – which wanted a larger, downtown location to replace its existing building – became the chief occupant on the property. As a legal settlement, however, the deal didn’t go through the usual planning and zoning procedure. Instead, after some meetings to answer questions and hear comments from the public, the council voted on Aug. 2, 2010, to approve the settlement.
The new museum will include 12,500 square feet of exhibition space, an education classroom, museum shop, cafe, and a roof deck sculpture garden, among other amenities.
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“The AAM Board’s decision to move ahead with this momentous groundbreaking is a thoughtful, appropriate, and timely step forward,” the museum’s director and chief curator, Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson, said in a statement. “I am thrilled to be working with our board members, staff, and Shigeru Ban and new building project team toward our most important institutional goal of a new AAM facility.”