Aspen Art Museum moves forward with expansion plans | AspenTimes.com
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Aspen Art Museum moves forward with expansion plans

Carolyn SackariasonThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN The Aspen Art Museum has plans to expand to a different location and has raised $28 million toward the effort, in addition to hiring an architect.Thats despite the fact that no details have been finalized for the ZG Master Plan, which calls for a massive building project centered around the Pitkin County Courthouse, the Rio Grande Parking Garage and other sites on Galena Street. The Aspen City Council will be the ultimate decider on the ZG Master Plan and what each property will be used for, including an expansion of the library, more government office space and affordable housing.Museum officials hope that their new facility will be located where the former youth center currently sits behind the courthouse. It was announced last week that Aspen Art Museum (AAM) officials have chosen architectural firm Shigeru Ban Architects (SBA) to design the new 30,000-square-foot facility.However, the size of the new museum could change based on where its located and the communitys needs, according to Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson, AAM director and chief curator. SBA will consider what the museum needs in terms of programming and will design a building accordingly, she said.The purpose of moving ahead without a final ZG Master Plan is to be prepared when the plan is approved and taken through the review process.We want to show the P&Z and the City Council that we will be a viable partner and can raise money … that we are not just blowing smoke, Zuckerman Jacobson said, adding hiring an architect is an integral part of that demonstration. The earlier the architect is involved in the site selection, the better the building will be.Zuckerman Jacboson said AAM has received signed pledge forms totaling $28 million. The goal is to raise $35 million, $20 million of which will go toward the new facility and $15 million will go toward an endowment fund.AAM officials said their advisers have told them that the design process has a much greater chance of success with the early inclusion of the architect in discussions pertaining to the footprint of the building. Aspen Community Development Director Chris Bendon said the pre-emptive move cant hurt, especially considering that the youth center location is envisioned to be a centerpiece of the redevelopment and a public gathering place.I dont think its premature, he said. They are anxious to proceed.An architect would help conceptualize what the facility would look like and how it would function in a plaza as a gathering place, Bendon added. There is some advantage in conceptualizing.Aspen resident Phyllis Bronson, who has spoken publicly about the ZG Master Plan, said the AAMs hiring of an architect is definitely premature.I dont think its gone through due process and there is a lot more review to be done, she said, adding that she believes the AAM should remain in its location. She also said too much development will ruin the area. Its incredible how ambitious these people are.The AAMs current building, set along the Roaring Fork River at the north end of Mill Street, is 7,000 square feet. Zuckerman Jacobson said the facility has outgrown the needs of the community, noting that last years attendance was 12,000 people and so far this year, it already has reached 21,000.The AAM is not alone in outgrowing its space…. I have seen many of our community arts institutions and organizations outgrow and evolve beyond their original venues, said Nancy Magoon, president of the AAM board of trustees. The Aspen Institute once had Paepcke Auditorium in which to present lectures and programs, it is clear in retrospect that they needed the Doerr-Hosier Center to accommodate what they do now; the Aspen Music Festival and School had a tent and now has Harris Hall to all of our benefit.Bendon said SBA has more license to design a forward-thinking building than the rest of the players in the master plan, which includes Pitkin County and city of Aspen governments, as well as the Aspen Chamber Resort Association and the Pitkin County Library.The Aspen Art Museum has the most architectural freedom as opposed to designing a public building, he said.Bendon added that he has discussed with SBA some preliminary thoughts on how to engage the youth center space through the buildings design.Shigeru Ban, chief architect and founder of SBA, is known for his approaches to environmentally sound architecture, and his dedication to humanitarian and green causes.csack@aspentimes.com


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