The Parrish Art Museum's New Herzog & de Meuron Space
BY STACEY GOERGEN
A rendering of the north view of the new Parrish Art Museum
|Anne in a Striped Dress (1967), by Fairfield Porter|
Of the many compelling elements of the Parrish Art Museum’s move, the most impressive is the beautiful rising structure on 14 acres in Water Mill, just off Route 27. Nestled into the landscape, the long, low framework feels endemic to the area. Viewing the construction from the road, however, does not prepare visitors for the quiet impact of the 34,000-square-foot building in this surprisingly peaceful setting. “The wind prevails from the north; it’s amazing how quiet it is here,” says Parrish director Terrie Sultan during a recent tour of the property. “We wanted the museum to sit lightly in the landscape. We wanted it to be as much a part of the community as our services are.”
This reserved aesthetic is reflected in the architecture as well. Designed by renowned Swiss firm Herzog & de Meuron, the building is a 615-foot-long barnlike structure with an 11-foot overhang. Positioned so that the larger skylights and banks of windows face true north, the design takes into account the local landscape and community. Sultan’s enthusiasm about its implications is infectious. “I am very proud of certain design elements of the museum, including the relationship between the inside and outside,” she says. Emphasizing its relationship to the East End, Sultan notes that the vast majority of the materials, construction workers and other trades are local. The future landscaping will also be a simple mix of regional grasses and native wildflowers.
A Plan for the Parrish
The decision for the Parrish to move has been a long time coming. After exploring a series of options, including staying at the existing Southampton location, the Parrish settled on the new site and the architect in 2005. “We are moving to the Switzerland of the Hamptons by coming to Water Mill,” says Sultan. “We want to be the museum of the East End.” Originally, Herzog & de Meuron designed a complex $82-million structure, but given the recent economic climate, the project was reconceptualized with a more palatable budget of $26.4 million. The resulting facility will be almost twice the size of the existing museum, and it will consist of two parallel barns connected by a spine that runs the length of the building.
Alexandra Stanton, the vice president of the museum’s Board of Trustees, says that the move “allows our space and footprint to catch up with the diversity of our programming. The modern yet referential new building by Herzog & de Meuron is the perfect space to house and to reflect the wide range of our offerings.” Indeed, the Parrish will now be able to dedicate galleries to the regular display of some of its rich permanent collection of 2,600 works, an option previously unavailable to the museum. Spanning the 19th century through to the present, the collection holds many world-renowned artists who have lived in or been associated with the East End: William Merritt Chase, Fairfield Porter, Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner, Dan Flavin, Eric Fischl, April Gornik and Elizabeth Peyton are among their ranks.
PHOTOGRAPH BY JEFF CULLY (AREIAL); HERZOG & DE MEURON (EXTERIOR); HERZOG & DE MEURON (GALLERY EXTERIOR); GARY MAMAY (PAINTING MATERIALS); HERZOG & DE MEURON
(GALLERY); GARY MAMAY (SHINNECOCK LANDSCAPE)