Harvard University and its Art Museums have selected a site in Allston that will become a permanent additional location for a portion of the Harvard University Art Museums’ operations and staff, and will include public galleries primarily for the display of modern and contemporary art. The new site at 224 Western Ave. is in the Barry’s Corner section of Allston, a location adjacent to Harvard’s proposed campus development that has long been identified by residents and planners as a potential crossroads for academic, cultural, and public uses that serve the broader community.
Initially, the new art center in Allston will provide a base for the Art Museums’ operations, collections, and staff during a major renovation of their Quincy Street facilities in Cambridge. During that renovation, the Art Museums will also display highlights from their collections at the Sackler Museum on Broadway.
Harvard had previously announced plans to retrofit a Brighton office building at 1380 Soldiers Field Road, which formerly housed Citizens Bank, as a temporary home for HUAM during the Cambridge renovations. But a subsequent feasibility study showed the many challenges to retrofitting the existing office building to accommodate HUAM’s programmatic needs, which require significant secure and climate-controlled areas. HUAM’s planning had also pointed to the need for a permanent second home across the Charles.
Daly Genik Architects, the Los Angeles-based firm hired by HUAM to retrofit the former Citizens Bank building, is designing the new art center at 224 Western Ave. The early use concepts include public galleries, dedicated spaces for public programming, a study center, research facilities, a café, and a museum shop. Early concepts for the building suggest putting the building height lower by neighboring residents and one third of the building underground and including a rooftop garden and green space along the building’s edge. The art center will replace the existing one-story warehouse, which was formerly a truck storage, dispatch, and repair facility, and currently has no permanent tenants. The University will be working with the city and the Allston community as the design and regulatory processes progress.