The Frick Art & Historical Center
in Point Breeze opened its new Orientation Center and Frick Museum Store last weekend, with a wide range of activities including free tours of Clayton, meet-the-architects sessions, free gallery talks and family activities.
Located on the Pittsburgh estate of late 19th-century industrialist Henry Clay Frick, the Frick Art & Historical Center is a legacy to the people of Pittsburgh — left by Frick’s daughter Helen Clay Frick upon her death in 1984.
Built by Helen Clay Frick in 1969, The Frick Art Museum displays a permanent collection of European paintings, sculpture and decorative arts from the 13th to 18th centuries.
Clayton, the Henry Clay Frick family mansion, was the home where Frick and his wife Adelaide raised their family until the turn of the century. Their daughter Helen returned home and maintained Clayton as her primary residence. Restored and opened as a house museum in 1990, 93 percent of Clayton’s artifacts are original. The permanent collections include art, cars, carriages and historic objects (including buildings).
Also included on the Frick’s 5.5-acre site are the Frick Children’s Playhouse, designed by renowned architects Alden & Harlow; the renovated Orientation Center and Frick Museum Store; a large working greenhouse (also designed by Alden & Harlow); an education center; and The Café at the Frick.
The opening of the orientation center marks the completion of the first phase of a $15 million expansion project. The space incorporates educational technology that enables visitors to learn about the Frick family and life in Pittsburgh at the end of the 19th century. It also includes the new Frick Museum Store.
A new entrance was constructed at the center of campus in front of the orientation center, between the Car and Carriage Museum and the café, creating a new cohesion for the multi-venue Frick.
“The roof kind of floats over the walls,” says architect Jon Traficonte of Schwartz/Silver, a Boston architecture firm that worked with local Loysen + Kreuthmeir Architects
on the Frick renovations. Traficonte describes how the wood ceiling is suspended by glass walls at various heights, “folding” up and down to be on scale with surrounding buildings. This feature makes adjacent buildings visible from indoors, helping orient visitors.
New technology spearheaded by Seattle’s Belle & Wissell, Co., also assists visitors.
“It will allow them to better plan their visit,” says Greg Langel, Frick media and marketing manager about the state of the art interactive maps, touch screens and apps.
Upon arrival, guests are greeted by the multiplex, three large electronic screens that present information about the collection. There is also an interactive map that allows guests to plot their visit and provides estimated walking times around campus.
Two touch tables describe what is on view in the collections. The iPad bar additionally provides history apps and mission related topics to educate museum guests about the Frick family, Pittsburgh, national and global history.
Langel described how the renovation creates a balance between futuristic technology and the site’s history, calling it a “modern yet traditional” green building.
“I think that architecturally this building is impressive,” he says.
To enhance the Frick's environmental sustainability, all Frick expansion project phases adhere to LEED standards. The glass design of the Orientation Center provides a visual connection to the Frick’s park-like setting and enhances the “green” character of the facility through the use of natural daylight. An exterior sun louver system reduces heat-gain and energy consumption required for cooling. Building materials were selected based on recycled and Low-VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) content and, where possible, have been harvested and manufactured within 500 miles of Pittsburgh. "Rain chains" drain water from the roof and hydrate plants on the building’s periphery. The architects also created two new adjacent green spaces.
The new museum shop is double the size of the old store. Visitors will find local artisan jewelry, books, kids activity items, art reproductions and Frick products. Pittsburgh artist Audra Azoury created Frick-inspired jewelry for the new shop.
The second phase of the expansion project calls for a new education center that will be housed in a renovated facility (the current Carriage Gallery of the Car and Carriage Museum). In addition, a new Carriage Gallery will allow the Frick to better exhibit its important collection of Frick family carriages.
In the third phase of the project, the Frick will construct a new community center that will provide additional education and program space and create a venue for rental events. When completed, this plan will join together the multiple components of the Frick, support the enhancement and expansion of its educational offerings and enrich the experience of more than 125,000 annual visitors.
Source: The Frick Art & Historical Center
, Greg Langel, Karen Loysen, Jon Traficonte, Kate Blumen