A first look at the $45 million redesign of the Storm King Art Center

The Storm King Art Center in upstate New York will begin a $45 million transformative redevelopment this fall aimed at enhancing the visitor experience and ecological biodiversity of the popular 500-acre sculpture park.

Storm King President John P. Stern (grandson of arts patron Ralph E. Ogden, who co-founded the center in 1960 with Stern’s father, its former President H. Peter Stern) states that visitor numbers over the past decade and Forecasts for the future have made the redesign indispensable.

“The advent of social media and our growing program and exhibits have all contributed to Storm King having more fans and friends,” says Stern The art newspaper. “We already have this unmatched collection and beautiful scenery in the heart of the Hudson Highlands, so this project was about thinking about how we could make the experience even better for our visitors.”

Visitor numbers at Storm King have grown exponentially over the past decade, from around 80,000 visitors in 2012 to almost 222,000 last year and a projected attendance of 240,000 in 2022.

Several international architecture and landscape design firms are involved in the project, including Dublin-based firm Heneghan Peng Architects; New York-based WXY Architecture and Urban Design, which has worked closely with London-based practice Gustafson Porter and Bowman; and the landscape architecture firm Reed Hilderbrand based in Cambridge, Massachusetts and New Haven, Connecticut.

Rendering of the new Conservation, Fabrication and Maintenance Building at the Storm King Art Center. © Storm King Art Center.

A major facet of the project includes the construction of a 7,200 square foot building dedicated to preservation, fabrication and maintenance that will have 22 foot ceilings and five large access doors, a 1,000 square foot lumber shop, an 800 square foot .ft paint booth and other work areas. The intentionally low-key structure, the first purpose-built building on the site, will be “instrumental in continuing our work with artists at the scale that we do,” says Nora Lawrence, Storm King’s artistic director and chief curator.

She adds, “We have preserved some large scale sculptures in recent years that have had to travel as far as Virginia to paint, which is obviously not an ideal situation in terms of cost, logistics and preservation of the sculpture itself. There is always an active rotation of works that require different types of care, so being able to do some of these large conservation and maintenance projects on site will be a game changer for us and what we can offer to the public.”

The building will be able to accommodate artists-in-residence, specifically artists participating in the centers views program, an initiative launched in 2013 to temporarily showcase the work of emerging and mid-career artists supporting that year’s site-specific commission by American sculptor Brandon Ndife shade trees (2022). Next year it will make possible a commission from the German artist RA Walden.

Rendering of the new welcome area at Storm King Art Center. Background right: Alexander Calder, The arc (1975). Purchase Fund and Gift of the Ralph E. Ogden Foundation © 2021 Calder Foundation, New York/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. © Storm King Art Center.

Another branch of the project involves consolidating the center’s parking lots into one 580-space lot that will open up 11 acres of the landscape to more arts and programs. The property will feature electric vehicle charging stations, easier access for buses and shuttles, and dedicated parking for ridesharing. It leads to a Welcome Center with a ticketing pavilion, a 4,700-square-foot outdoor lobby, and other amenities.

“We wanted to sequence the arrival so people would move past traffic, into a service area, and then pull down into the actual Storm King and no longer see other properties or streets,” says Róisín Heneghan, co-founder of Heneghan Peng Architects. “We also wanted to minimize the facilities to be placed as much as possible.”

Claire Weisz, Founding Director of WXY Architecture and Urban Design adds: “All of the buildings, whether it is the listed building or the non-gendered washrooms or the information stand, play into a common holistic plan to keep the landscape unaltered to separate the architecture. Rather, it’s about creating a bridge between indoor and outdoor spaces that Storm King didn’t have before, and ensuring those spaces contribute to the environment.”

Going forward, visitors will enter Storm King via an S-shaped pathway and will first encounter Alexander Calder’s seminal biomorphic sculpture The arc (1940/1975) before seeing plays by Mark di Suvero, Mark Dion, David Von Schlegell and Robert Grosvenor.

Rendering of the new South Meadow, reclaimed from a former parking lot, at the Storm King Art Center. © Storm King Art Center.

More than 600 trees will be planted to increase shade and increase plant diversity on the property, including dogwood, redbud, sweetgum, tulip trees, red maples, and poplars. Improved water management systems will also be installed to ensure on-site water stays there.

“We wanted to think about what might help bring Storm King further into the 21st century in terms of landscape principles, or how to make it more resilient by studying how water moves through the terrain and how planting increases and diversifies could be,” says Beka Sturges, director of Reed Hilderbrand. “It’s also interesting to think about how the landscape can draw more attention to the works associated with water or the forest, which feel much more secondary than those on the meadows and lawn.”

The project is scheduled to be completed in 2024. It is funded in part by a $2.6 million donation from New York State; $2 million from Empire State Development; and $600,000 from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority through a program dedicated to carbon neutral development.

“There have been so many positive changes at Storm King as our profile has grown and continues to grow,” says Lawrence. “The types of projects we’ve been able to produce with artists have grown and changed, and now we’re just better equipping people for their visits.”

Storm King is currently hosting a major exhibition by Kenyan-American artist Wangechi Mutu. Next year it will unveil a permanent work by renowned American sculptor Martin Puryear, the US representative at the 2019 Venice Biennale, which takes the form of a 20-foot-tall curved brick dome. The piece will join more than 100 permanent sculptures at the center, including pieces by Andy Goldsworthy, Henry Moore and Isamu Noguchi.

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