Seattle, Washington, USA
“The Seattle Asian Art Museum honors and preserves the architectural legacy of the historic building and integrity of the park while providing space for deeper explorations of the diverse, artistic, and cultural traditions of Asia,” state LMN Architects.
Located in a landmarked Olmstead-designed park, the Seattle Asian Art Museum’s expansion and renovation led by Sam Miller of LMN Architects and landscape architect Walker Macy inaugurate a new era for one of the few museums in North America dedicated exclusively to Asian art.
The Seattle Asian Art Museum Renovation and Expansion project has recently been awarded a 2022 American Architecture Award by The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design and The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies.
The expansion and renovation restored the historic structure, modernized the original galleries, and added a new gallery, education space, conservation lab, and community art gallery.
The architectural project preserves the building’s architectural legacy while enhancing the museum’s capacity to support its growing collections and fosters a more inclusive relationship with the Seattle community.
The renovation focused on recapturing the essential character of the historic building and complementing it with a new, contemporary addition, compatible with the historic structure.
The modern addition enhances the Fuller Garden Court, the historic building’s central hub, and provides access to galleries from multiple points.
This is accomplished by the introduction of two new portals connected to a new Park Lobby, providing an additional access path through the new gallery.
The historic entry, Fuller Garden Court, and the Park Lobby create a circulation spine with views of the park to the east and the west, rejuvenating the building’s connection to the park and the community.
The visual connection to the park setting and natural daylight from skylights and windows in the galleries and entry lobby were the cornerstones of the original building design.
Over time, building additions eliminated many of the original perimeter windows, and skylights were covered due to UV concerns, impacting the originally intended experience of the museum.
The renovation restored the important quality of daylight and views by reintroducing overhead illumination in the octagonal galleries appropriate for the art and replacing clear glazing in the entry lobby. The new Park Lobby takes it a step further and maximizes the connection of the building to the historic park.
Built in 1933 during the Depression, the museum incorporated economic materials.
Scagliola replaced stone and a unique application of engineered hardboard was used instead of wood flooring.
Technical solutions to restore these materials retained the distinctive materials and features of the historic structure.
Replacement of the museum’s original mechanical system and other building infrastructure introduced a level of environmental control not found in the original building, allowing the museum to host traveling exhibits and preserve the integrity of the collections.
Project: Seattle Asian Art Museum Renovation and Expansion
Architects: LMN Architects
Lead Architect: Sam Miller
Landscape Architects: Walker Macy
Lighting Designers: Fisher Marantz Stone
Contractor: BNBuilders, Inc.
Client: Seattle Art Museum
Photographers: Tim Griffith and Adam Hunter, LMN Architects