Crystal Bridges to Expand

John Hill
8. April 2021
Visualization: Safdie Architects

The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art has revealed plans for a major expansion designed by Safdie Architects, the architect of the original museum that opened in Bentonville, Arkansas, in 2011.

As announced yesterday, the expansion plans will grow the popular museum by 50%, adding 100,000 square feet (9,300 m2) to the 200,000-sf (18,600 m2) complex of interconnected buildings spanning a creek. Since opening ten years ago, the free-admission museum has welcomed more than five million visitors, with 700,000 in 2019, the last full year before the pandemic. The extra square footage will allow for more visitors, while an associated increase in gallery space by 65% will enable more artworks to be shown at any given time. The plans also call for more educational and community spaces and an outdoor space for performances and community programs. Safdie Architects is already reconfiguring the museum's main lobby and courtyard, work that is expected to be completed next month.

Visualization: Safdie Architects

The renderings provided by Crystal Bridges clearly show how Moshe Safdie's expansion design continues the architecture of the original museum along the north-south creek. The museum will grow northward into a forested area (bottom half of the south-looking aerial view at top), placing parallel buildings along the sides of water and connecting them by another namesake bridge. The swooping and vaulted roofs of the original are repeated in the new volumes, resulting in a seamless whole. Just as the original has a plaza fronting the water, the open space contained by the expansion will feature a circular event plaza next to a dining pavilion.

Visualization: Safdie Architects

Construction of the 100,000-sf expansion is expected to start in early 2022 and wrap up in 2024.

Visualization: Safdie Architects
Project Team:

  • Design Architect: Safdie Architects
  • Associate Architect: Hight Jackson
  • Structural, Façade, and MEP Engineers: Buro Happold
  • Civil Engineers: CEI Engineers
  • Landscape Architects: Coen+Partners
  • Lighting: LAM
  • Contractor: Flintco

The existing museum, as seen in a 2017 visit. (Photo: John Hill/World-Architects)

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