LA Firm Will Design Allston Art Showcase

Contemporary art collection will cross the Charles as Fogg braces for repairs

Daly Genik, a California-based architectural firm, will transform the Citizens Bank offices in Allston into an interim art facility while the University Art Museums undergo renovations, Harvard announced yesterday.

No designs were submitted during the competition process for the contract. But Christopher M. Gordon, the chief operating officer of Harvard’s Allston Development Group, said he expected the firm to submit plans for the Soldiers Field Road property within the next three to four months. Construction is tentatively scheduled for 2007, and the center is expected to open to the public in late 2008.

University officials said they anticipated that the firm would make extensive changes to both the inside and outside of the building. “It’s now a very nice bank building, but it doesn’t look like an art center,” Gordon said.

The display rooms in the new center will showcase modern and contemporary art, according to Daron Manoogian, a Harvard University Art Museums spokesman.

Manoogian said the decision to devote the space to this artwork was driven both by the museums’ desire to expand their modern art collection and the need for more space to display their existing inventory.

The facility will also include offices, study space, and storage for over 250,000 pieces that will be relocated across the river during the first renovations to the Fogg Museum’s Quincy Street address in over 50 years.

Originally opened in 1927, the Fogg’s Quincy home will close its doors completely during the renovations, which will be led by the internationally-renowned architect Renzo Piano, who designed the Pompidou Center in Paris. Highlights from the Fogg and the Busch-Reisinger collections will be on display at the Sackler Museum during the renovations, which have been in the works for years.

“In reality, what we’re doing is a teeny part of a very substantial project, which is the renovation of the Fogg,” Daly Genik’s cofounder, Kevin Daly, said yesterday. “They have planned this to a really mintue level of detail.”

Daly Genik specializes in converting commercial buildings into space suitable for other uses.

“You’re trying to do as much as possible while leaving it alone as much as possible,” Daly said of the renovation process.

The firm recently attracted attention in the Architectural Record magazine for its success designing schools in Los Angeles.

“We thought they were sort of a rising star really,” Gordon said.

Gordon said the location of an arts facility in Allston was essential to creating a rich and varied campus life across the river.

“It’s a good first step into Allston because arts tend to have more of an interface with the community,” Gordon said. “It’s a nice thing to have, for lack of a better word.”

—Staff writer Natalie I. Sherman can be reached at nsherman@fas.harvard.edu..