Early this year, LaBella’s plans for the Gateway Building Project at the Rochester Museum and Science Center were approved by Rochester’s Preservation Board. The Rochester Business Journal profiled the project and its unique history and preservation challenges in this week’s Architecturally Speaking column.
LaBella Associates became involved with the project in 2012, as one of six local architecture firms invited to participate in a design competition. The RMSC requested concepts for a design that would connect museum and planetarium while providing a new centralized entrance for both facilities. LaBella’s design, pictured below, was chosen.
The design concept was further refined, with input from the RMSC and preservation guidelines. The desire for a bold, prominent new entry seemed at odds with traditional preservation approaches, which typically focus on discreet additions. Expansion to architecturally significant public buildings has long been a challenge, as discussed in this article, which highlights similar architectural conundrums at MoMA, the Frick and others.
Still, LaBella’s team was able to satisfy both the board and the RMSC’s vision for the future. LaBella’s Director of Architecture, Jeff Roloson, believe that the design has benefited from the preservation board process. “Through discussions with the board we were able to shift the design toward the south . We increased the transparency of the north (East Avenue facing) entry, allowing the curving form of the existing planetarium building’s exterior wall to be visible and continuous. No program area was lost and, while the East Avenue façade is more understated, the main south entrance was allowed to become more prominent. This is where the majority of visitors will now enter the museum.”
With approvals granted, the museum can continue their fundraising efforts, while the LaBella team continues to develop the project for construction.
For more information about this project or our architectural services, contact Director of Architecture Jeff Roloson.