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May 4, 1995
BY BENJAMIN MINNICK
Openness and street appeal will mark the Frye Art Museum's reopening next year after $6 million is spent on an expansion and renovation project. In the meantime, patrons have until May 21 to visit the 43-year-old facility before it closes for 15 to 18 months.
Project architect Olson/Sundberg envisions a reworked entry for the First Hill museum, giving it street appeal by eliminating its current ``office building'' look and creating new elements that will entice passers-by into the facility.
The Terry Avenue side of the building will feature an outdoor courtyard, reflecting pools, large windows and an arcade -- all instead of the museum's uninviting precast concrete walls.
A visual landmark will be established for the neighborhood by a 27-foot-diameter entry rotunda, which will include an oculus at the top. Visitors who stand under the oculus will be able to look in one direction to the museum's permanent collection, in another direction to special or traveling exhibits and in a third direction to a proposed cafe and education wing.
Inside, rooftop light monitors will channel natural light into all of the museum's galleries. Since proper lighting conditions are so important in a museum, three consultants have been retained to help with daylighting, gallery lighting and non-gallery lighting applications.
Physical additions to the museum will consist of a cafe and education wing of 8,000 square feet to the north end of the building; and another 4,000 square feet for administrative offices and archival storage space on a second level, above existing museum space.
The educational wing will feature three studios for art instruction and space for seminars. The wing will have the ability to be isolated from the museum, allowing it to be open for instruction at night. Museum Director Richard V. West said art classes will be held in the wing to help give the public a better understanding of artistic processes.
Negotiations are underway with Baugh Construction for a contract to build the facility. West said he intends to sign the contractor as soon as possible so that work can get underway this summer. Construction is expected to take about 10 months to complete.