Portland Museum of Art unveils competing conceptual designs for new $100 million expansion — Portland Museum of Art

Janice K. Johnson

Four finalist concept designs were just unveiled by the Portland Museum of Art for a planned expansion of the institution set to be completed by 2026 in the thriving New England cultural capital.

The $100 million project will add a total of 60,000 square feet of space to the existing museum in the form of a new six- or seven-story structure meant to accommodate the PMA’s collections, which have recently grown.

“Right now, because of our growth, the real risk is not to build,” Director Mark Bessire explained. “If museums don’t continue to grow, if you fall back, it can take a generation to recover.”

The project concludes the overhaul of Portland’s Congress Square district and will include restorations of some of its existing buildings, three of which are more than 100 years old, funded by a capital project that has already raised more than $30 million. Former USC School of Architecture Dean Milton Curry and White Arkitekter Partner Monica von Schmalensee were among the 13 jurors who selected designs back in August based on their “creative and sensitive approach, distinctive vision, and embodiment of the PMA’s values of courage, equity, service, sustainability, and trust.”

The four finalist concepts will remain on view at the PMA until December 11th.

Adjaye Associates with Simons Architects, KMA, Michael Boucher Landscape Architecture, Atelier Ten, 2×4, and John Bear Mitchell

Description from the architects: “The Portland Museum of Art Expansion is conceived as an armature of belonging that weaves community programming, public space, and art into a robust cultural destination. Guided by indigenous knowledge systems applied with 21st-century technology, the building’s primary materials are borne from the land — recycled Maine rammed earth will articulate the extension’s envelope and exposed structural timber beams will act as both interior structure and finish. Both materials celebrate lifecycles within the regional landscape, their expression returning the architecture to the heritage and ecology of the museum’s place whilst reducing the overall carbon footprint.”

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