Dartmouth’s Hood Museum Gets Its $50 Million Expansion From Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects

Unveiled in January, the design smooths out the original building's irregularities while increasing gallery space by 42 percent and creating three new classrooms.
hood museum expansion Tod Williams Billie Tsien

Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects expanded the Hood Museum of Art, adding gallery space and three classrooms. The addition cantilevers over a pedestrian path connecting Dartmouth College’s green with the campus arts district.Photo by Robert Gill, © Trustees of Dartmouth College

For once, visitors to the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College can find the front door. This January the school unveiled its $50 million expansion of the Hood, a gray, hard-nosed structure designed by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects that subsumes part of Charles Moore’s 1985 original, but scuttles its notoriously belabored entry sequence—and more.

Unlike its previous incarnation, which, with its chamfered edges and visual obliquities, had the mystery of a Masonic lodge and the jaunty revivalism of the Magic Kingdom, the new Hood is unmistakably a museum for contemporary art, with its weighty volumes, smart cyclopean vitrine-window, and serviceable signage by Pentagram.

Williams and Tsien have smoothed out many of Moore’s irregularities while increasing gallery space by 42 percent and upping the number of offices. Their parti also fills in Moore’s courtyard with a covered atrium, which the pair embellished with a felt wall piece, to be later replaced with a qualified artwork. But administrators are most keen to point out the three new classrooms, dimensioned so that professors can bring in even the largest of the museum’s items (like an El Anatsui assemblage) for study. This fulfills the architects’ goal, Williams said at the opening: “We want the art to come to the fore.”

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Categories: Cultural Architecture, Preservation