New Davison Art Gallery Design USA, Connecticut Architecture Images, Wesleyan University News

New Davison Art Gallery in Connecticut

August 3, 2021

Location: Wesleyan University, Connecticut, USA

Design: Peterson Rich Office with Newman Architects

Address: 252 Church St, Middletown, CT 06459, United States

Peterson Rich Office unveils design for new Davison Art Gallery in Connecticut, USA

New Davison Art Gallery Connecticut building entry

New Davison Art Gallery Building Design

Middletown, CT, USA; August 3, 2021 – Today Peterson Rich Office (PRO) and Wesleyan University simultaneously unveiled and announced breaking ground on the new Davison Art Gallery. A significant and historic project for the 190-year-old liberal arts university, the PRO-designed 5,550 square foot art building will dramatically enhance Wesleyan’s student-serving facilities and integrate visual art into daily campus life as the first new art building in over 50 years, following the Center for the Arts completed in 1973 and designed by the late Kevin Roche. PRO is completing the project in collaboration with Newman Architects, a New Haven-based architecture firm working on other significant projects on campus, including the renovation of the connected Public Affairs Center.

Established in 1952, Wesleyan’s Davison Art Center holds an art collection of more than 25,000 works—including one of the finest print collections at any university in the United States, with works by Dürer, Rembrandt, Goya, and Manet—but had not had adequate or archival space to store it or to exhibit it to the nearly 4,000 students, faculty and staff on its 360-acre campus.

New Davison Art Gallery Connecticut building design

Nestled between the University’s Public Affairs Center (PAC), currently undergoing renovation and expansion, and the historic McKim, Meade & White-designed Olin Memorial Library, PRO’s contemporary gallery will be accessible through the PAC and library, as well as creating a prominent new entrance and campus presence facing a great lawn along Church Street to the south. The new building will facilitate the multi-disciplinary study of visual culture in a space designed to foster community while also better connecting the east-west flow between buildings and north-south flow to Andrus Field. It will provide the exhibition component to complete the art collection‘s new home in centrally located Olin Library, designed by Newman and constructed by FIP in 2019, a move to expand and improve collection storage and symbolize the intended use of the collection as a teaching and learning resource for all departments and disciplines.

Wesleyan University building in Connecticut by Peterson Rich Office

On their design approach, PRO founding principals and lead architects Nathan Rich and Miriam Peterson stated, “The new gallery presents an opportunity to expand the visual arts from the iconic Kevin Roche-designed Center for the Arts to the very heart of the campus. The building is deliberately designed for interdisciplinary learning and to expose a range of students to this renowned collection.”

Paying homage to the Center for the Arts and complementing the library’s base material, the new Davison Art Gallery will be constructed with blocks of Indiana limestone. The main Church Street-facing side of the building features a sweeping roof and glass-walled lobby that elegantly distinguishes the art space from its more interior-focused neighbors. Upon entering visitors will immediately feel a sense of intimacy and community before entering an expansive gallery designed to display a variety of light-sensitive pieces from the Davison Art Center’s collection. The design puts equal emphasis on exterior space as it does interior, and is surrounding a teaching courtyard and forecourt gathering space to welcome outdoor learning and socializing.

Public Affairs Center (PAC), which Newman Architects is completing:
New Davison Art Gallery building design

Building on Wesleyan’s 2016-2021 Sustainability Action Plan, the new Gallery prioritizes energy efficiency and social sustainability. Features include a green roof, radiant floors, displacement ventilation, sensor-controlled LED lighting, solar panels, and low-maintenance native green space that will establish a new prototype for sustainable landscaping on campus.

Unanimously chosen through a design competition, the new Davison Art Gallery will be PRO’s first ground-up building for the arts and education, building on the founders’ experience as project architects for major cultural projects at firms Steven Holl Architects and Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects.

With this project, PRO currently has three arts and culture projects underway, including the Rubin Museum of Art’s Mandala Lab, an innovative initiative that uses the mandala as inspiration for teaching social, emotional, and ethical learning, in New York City and a new live/work studio for the artist Nina Chanel Abney in Hudson Valley, both slated for completion this fall. The firm is also overseeing the soon-to-be-revealed transformation of a historic Catholic Church into a new gallery and arts center and housing design as part of a multi-phased neighborhood redevelopment plan in Detroit.

The targeted completion date for the new Davison Art Gallery is Summer 2023.

Wesleyan University building in Connecticut design by Peterson Rich Office

New Davison Art Gallery Design – Building Information

Client: Wesleyan University
Location: 252 Church St, Middletown, CT 06459
Project Team: Peterson Rich Office (Design Architect); Newman Architects (Architect of Record); Michael Horton Associates (Structural); Van Zelm Heywood & Shadford (MEPFP); Fisher Marantz Stone (Lighting); Jonathan Leavitt Associates (Exterior Envelope); The Green Engineer (Sustainable Design); Langan Engineering (Landscape and Civil); FIP Construction (Construction Management)
Size: 5,550 square feet
Budget: Undisclosed

Design Competition Winner, June 2019
Groundbreaking, June 2021
Expected Completion, Summer 2023
Expected Occupancy, Spring Semester 2024

Images © Peterson Rich Office

Wesleyan University building Connecticut design

About Wesleyan University—Davison Art Center


The Davison Art Center strives to inspire ambitious inquiry of ourselves and our world by fostering research, knowledge, and enjoyment of art. Home to Wesleyan University’s art collection, the DAC is dedicated to preserving, exhibiting, interpreting, and documenting the objects in its care, as well as strengthening the collection itself. The Art Center collection spans over six centuries of art, from the fifteenth century CE to the present, principally in print and photographic media. It also encompasses drawings, paintings, and artwork in other media.
Website: Wesleyan University

About Peterson Rich Office

Peterson Rich Office (PRO) is a Brooklyn-based architecture and design firm recognized for its cultural and residential projects at multiple scales. Founded by Miriam Peterson and Nathan Rich in 2012, the firm’s early work included an artist studio for Tula Telfair and New York City flagships for PERROTIN and Glossier. In recent years, the firm’s body of work has expanded to include a ground-up gallery building at Wesleyan University; a new gallery and arts center in Detroit; residential spaces for artist and design clients; and scalable design solutions for affordable public housing. Opening in fall 2021, the Mandala Lab at the Rubin Museum of Art will be PRO’s first museum project in New York City. Recent awards include being named a 2020 Emerging Voice by The Architectural League and part of Cultured’s inaugural Young Architects List.
Website: Peterson Rich Office

About Newman Architects

Newman Architects is a renowned architectural and planning firm with offices in New Haven, Connecticut, and Washington, DC. Founded in 1964 by Herbert S. Newman, FAIA, the firm has received more than 150 awards for design excellence and has built a national reputation for the quality of its work and client service. Newman has designed academic, residential, and athletic buildings on more than fifty college and university campuses across the country.
Website: Newman Architects

Address: 252 Church Street, Middletown, CT 06459, United States of America
Phone: +1 860-685-2500

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