A limited competition entry to refurbish and extend Sir Charles Barry’s Grade I Listed City Art Gallery and adjoining Grade II Athenaeum to provide new galleries and speculative office accommodation. The scheme seeks to operate at the urban scale, as a link between Chinatown and the Peace Gardens adjacent to the Town Hall, and, at the building scale, in the manner by which the symmetry and clarity of Barry’s plan of the City Art Gallery is extended.
The entrance hall to the City Art Gallery becomes the primary organisational space from which there is direct visual contact with all public amenities and a central concourse, together with views through to a sculpture court at the second floor level. The concourse maintains an articulation and yet links both the new and old buildings. It affords a public route through the Gallery at ground level and also provides access to the offices, cafe bar and other educational facilities at the lower levels.
A grand staircase passes at right angles through the concourse, connecting the principal entrance to the upper level galleries within the new extension and the Victorian theatre within the Athenaeum.
The scale, massing and proportions relate directly to Barry’s precedents whilst the materials set up an aesthetic contrast and an interplay between old and new.