An Epic Mirrored Entrance by Olafur Eliasson Will Crown the Planned $160 Million Expansion of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery

The work is inspired by the climate of Buffalo.

A rendering of Common Sky at the Albright-Knox Gallery by Olafur Eliasson and Sebastian Behmann of Studio Other Spaces. © Studio Other Spaces.
A rendering of Common Sky at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery by Olafur Eliasson and Sebastian Behmann of Studio Other Spaces. © Studio Other Spaces.

The Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York, has announced the newest detail in its ongoing expansion: a towering mirror-mosaic canopy designed by Olafur Eliasson.

Eliasson describes Common Sky, which is to be installed in the museum’s atrium, as an “expansive sculpture through which visitors experience the constant motion of the surrounding natural environment.” Sebastian Behmann, the cofounder with Eliasson of Studio Other Spaces, which will execute the project, adds that the work will be “an instrument… to modulate visitors’ view into the trees of the park while creating an ever-changing shadow pattern on the ground.”

The sculpture, which is constructed of mirrored pieces and transparent glass, mimics the shape of a tree, with a soaring canopy overhead and a hollow “trunk” anchoring the center, where snow and rain—common fixtures in Buffalo’s climate—can collect in a narrow funnel, integrating interior and exterior spaces.

Aerial view of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery.

Aerial view of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery.

The plan jives well with the broader overhaul of the museum campus, led by architect Shohei Shigematsu of OMA. The plan is to build a new building on the north side of the museum’s campus with a wraparound promenade that connects the interior with the surrounding Frederick Law Olmsted landscape.

Like in most museum expansions, the impetus is to increase space to show off more of the gallery’s collection, which includes the entirety of Pop artist Marisol’s estate, left to the museum in 2017. The new building will give an additional 30,000 square-feet to that purpose. The current surface parking lot, situated above ground, will be transformed into a community space, while the sculpture garden, built in 1962, will be covered and transition into an indoor town square.

View of the north building from the 1905 Building. Courtesy of Albright-Knox Gallery.

View of the north building from the 1905 Building. Courtesy of Albright-Knox Gallery.

Eliasson’s new sculpture comes courtesy of billionaire investor Jeffrey Gundlach, who injected a massive capital infusion into the project with gifts totaling $52.5 million. To honor his contributions, the gallery will be renamed the Buffalo Albright-Knox-Gundlach Art Museum when it reopens in 2021.

See more pictures of the plans below.

View of the north building from Elmwood Avenue. Courtesy of Albright-Knox Gallery.

View of the north building from Elmwood Avenue. Courtesy of Albright-Knox Gallery.

View of the north building from Iroquois Drive. Courtesy of Albright-Knox Gallery.

View of the north building from Iroquois Drive. Courtesy of Albright-Knox Gallery.


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