Weidlinger-Engineered Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Art of the Americas Wing Awarded Boston Society of Architects’ Most Prestigious Honor

The wing, designed by Foster + Partners with CBT/Childs Berman Tseckares, Inc., received the 2014 Harleston Parker Medal, which acknowledges Boston’s “most beautiful piece of architecture, building, monument, or structure.”

New York, NY, February 26, 2015 --(PR.com)-- The Boston Society of Architects (BSA) awarded its highest honor, the 2014 Harleston Parker Medal, to the $345-million, 121,307-square-foot Museum of Fine Arts (MFA), Boston, Art of the Americas Wing, for which Weidlinger Associates, Inc., (www.wai.com) was the structural engineer of record.

The wing, designed by Foster + Partners, London, and CBT/Childs Bertman Tseckares, Inc., Boston, accommodates upwards of 5,000 works—more than doubling the number previously on view. The expansion and renovation also reestablished the north-south axis envisioned by Guy Lowell, architect of the museum’s century-old Huntington Avenue building, and more fully integrated the museum with the surrounding Back Bay Fens Park.

“This was an exciting project that entailed a large number of unique challenges, requiring creative solutions,” said Peter Quigley, PE, a Weidlinger principal and project manager for the wing. “I’m certain that some of the engineering solutions developed for the Art of the Americas Wing will prove invaluable to designers of other galleries in the future.”

According to the BSA, the Harleston Parker Medal “acknowledges the most beautiful piece of architecture, building, monument, or structure within the City of Boston or Metropolitan Parks District limits.” It is intended to “stimulate the appreciation of good architecture by the public, and give public recognition by the city to architects who have succeeded in doing...exceptionally good work.”

In selecting the Art of the Americas Wing to receive the medal, the BSA jury cited the project’s “exceptional beauty and service to art,” describing the new grand hall and gallery wing as “an outstanding complement to the original Museum building,” and concluding, “With this reconfiguration, the MFA crosses the threshold to join the world-class.”

Featuring a central glass building flanked by two pavilions of glass and granite, the MFA, Boston, Art of the Americas Wing project epitomizes a modern design aesthetic. The largest of the four new structures, the four-story central building, houses the Art of the Americas collection, containing three floors of galleries designed to accommodate large artworks. The 53 new galleries allow the Museum of Fine Arts to showcase more than 5,000 works. The ceilings range in height from 15.5 feet to nearly 22 feet. At the western end is the Ruth and Carl J. Shapiro Family Courtyard, a 63-foot-tall, 12,000-square-foot open space with glazed curtain walls. Beneath the courtyard is the Ann and Graham Gund Gallery, an 8,280-square-foot special exhibition space with movable walls designed to offer maximum flexibility for displaying artwork.

The two four-story pavilions that flank the central building contain galleries, meeting rooms, administrative offices, and an auditorium. Glazed bridges connect the central building with the two pavilions. The fourth building, a three-story structure adjacent to the south connector building, includes galleries, mechanical spaces, and an innovative “art hoist” that facilitates movement of oversized objects into the wing and throughout the facility.

To achieve the project goal of integrating the museum more fully with its surroundings by maximizing transparency, the design team developed innovative methods of controlling interior light levels through the use of fabric panels and motorized louvers in the glazed roofs. To provide optimal fire safety, unique concrete-filled steel box columns were designed to temporarily support the roof if the steel is compromised by fire.

Weidlinger Associates, Inc., is a structural engineering firm that designs and rehabilitates buildings, bridges, and infrastructure and provides special services in applied science, forensics, and physical security. The firm, which employs about 275 full-time staff, celebrated its 65th year in 2014. It is recognized worldwide for its innovative and practical design solutions and for its long-term commitment to advancing the state of the art in engineering. Headquartered in New York City, the firm has branch offices in the United States and the United Kingdom. For more information, please see www.wai.com.

Weidlinger’s Massachusetts office, which recently relocated from Cambridge to South Boston, was established in 1962. The office is currently providing structural engineering services for projects on the Yale University, Harvard University, Boston College, and Boston University campuses and is collaborating with the New York office on new U.S. embassies in Athens, Greece, and Mexico City, Mexico. Other noteworthy projects include protective design support services for the new bridge over the Saint Lawrence River in Montreal, Canada, the Vogtle Nuclear Plant in Burke County, Georgia, and the Federal Reserve Bank in Boston. Award-winning projects include the MIT Media Lab Extension and the LEED Gold-certified J. W. McCormack Post Office and Courthouse Renovation and Upgrade.
Weidlinger Associates, Inc.
Jaime Strohmenger, LAK Public Relations, Inc.
Mollie Fullington, mfullington@lakpr.com