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Buffalo AKG Art Museum

Office for Metropolitan Architecture NY

Buffalo, New York, United States

September 2023


Shohei Shigematsu (Firm Partner)



Woody Brown - Albright Knox


Marco Cappelletti


The new Jeffrey E. Gundlach Building at the Buffalo AKG Art Museum features cross-shaped galleries on the ground floor, symbolizing addition, surrounded by transparent corners blending the museum with its surroundings. The scale of the cross galleries mirrors the intimate rooms of the 1905 structure, while two larger, more efficient gallery boxes echo Bunshaft’s design above. A double-height gallery at the front connects these spaces.
Museums are evolving beyond their traditional role as places to see art, becoming gathering spaces for local communities. The Gundlach Building provides a new social dimension to the AKG by balancing programmed and programmable space. A public promenade with no defined program wraps around the second-level gallery. Enveloped by a high-performance glass "veil," the terrace offers a bright winter garden immersing visitors in the park while exposing museum activities to the city. It offers a place for rest and hosts a range of events and educational programs that can be enjoyed year-round.
The veil of the building adds a softness and inviting feeling to the campus, resonant but distinct from the dark, orthogonal volume of the Bunshaft auditorium box and the heavy masonry of the 1905 building. It integrates essential infrastructure for the galleries, including sprinkler lines, track lighting, art hanging, and shades, into the veil mullion structure. This design approach creates a true campus-like museum that integrates art, architecture, and nature, offering a diverse range of programs and spatial experiences.


The Buffalo AKG Art Museum, located at the northern edge of historic Delaware Park, is steeped in the city's industrial history and ongoing revitalization. The surrounding area boasts a rich architectural legacy, from iconic structures like silos and manufacturing facilities to works by architectural luminaries such as Eero Saarinen, Louis Sullivan, and Frank Lloyd Wright. The museum's physical presence is defined by two interconnected historic buildings: a 1905 neo-classical gem by Edward B. Green, originally intended for the 1901 Pan-American Exposition, and a 1962 modernist extension by Gordon Bunshaft, featuring an auditorium box and an outdoor courtyard. Despite being in the park, the two buildings side-by-side severed views and access to it from the city, and even from inside the museum itself. Our ambition for the extension was not only to expand the complex to accommodate the museum’s growing art collection and diversifying programs, but also to reconnect it to the park and city and establish a new openness to public activities.
To provide an architecture supporting diverse community programs, the museum's new Jeffrey E. Gundlach Building integrates seamlessly with its surroundings, offering an inviting and comfortable space. This expansion aligns with the museum's commitment to social and cultural diversity, fostering community engagement through educational initiatives, public art projects, and murals. The Buffalo AKG Art Museum's revitalized campus not only preserves its architectural heritage but also serves as a vibrant hub for artistic expression, education, and community enrichment.


The Buffalo AKG Art Museum's opening marked a significant milestone in its 161-year history, symbolizing a turning point in its role as a cultural beacon. The project, supported by a diverse community of donors and led by forward-thinking philanthropy, exceeded expectations by raising approximately $230 million, nearly tripling its initial target. This achievement is a testament to the community's belief in the museum's future and its commitment to preserving and enhancing its cultural legacy.
The museum's inaugural season drew nearly 100,000 visitors in just four and a half months, highlighting its enhanced status as a civic and community hub. This surge in attendance represents a significant increase compared to the previous annual visitation of 120,000. The design of the new campus, shaped by input from hundreds of individuals, underscores the museum's dedication to showcasing contemporary art and bolstering the region's vibrancy.
The building's design, including the veil that adds a softness and inviting feeling to the campus, demonstrates a thoughtful approach to functionality and aesthetics, integrating infrastructure support for the galleries seamlessly. Additionally, the building now opens itself up to its surroundings—a transparent entity that contributes a new profile and language to the lineage of architectural history of the institution. Together, the new complex offers an array of programs and spatial experiences—from classic to modern to contemporary, gallery to classroom, intimate rooms to grand halls, lawn to courtyard to winter garden. The result is a true campus-like museum for the community that integrates art, architecture, and nature.

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