The Pack Square Conservancy board on Wednesday gave its approval of the Asheville Art Museum’s design of a new glass structure that will serve as both a giant window onto the heart of downtown and an inviting entrance into the museum.
Museum Executive Director Pam Myers said the new structure reflects the existing historic structure housing the museum — it was once Asheville’s library — while working to serve as a major entrance to the new Pack Square Park, as well as the museum.
Guy Clerici, the conservancy board’s chairman, said the design “complements the tranquility of the park” and made a “wonderful addition.” Fellow board member Kelly Miller said the design “redefines the museum” as a key anchor of downtown Asheville’s public spaces.
The conservancy board reviews architectural changes to buildings on the park. Myers, a member of the conservancy board, made the presentation. She recused herself from the board’s vote on project. She was accompanied by local architect John Rogers, members of the museum’s board and representatives of Beverly-Grant construction company of Asheville.
The glass wall is the biggest outward change to the museum on Pack Square, but it’s just one part of a multi-million dollar renovation plan that will double the museum’s space in the Pack Place art center from 24,400 square feet to 50,900 square feet. The museum plans to transform its promenade, increase its permanent exhibition space and add a rooftop sculpture garden and cafe.
The plans call for the museum to move into the space now occupied by The Health Adventure science and health education center for children. The Health Adventure is currently building a new home for itself on Broadway called Momentum.
Work on the museum is scheduled to start about a year from now, according to Myers, and should be complete in 2013. The museum has been communicating with area businesses about construction plans. Downtown businesses have been affected by years of construction on the new $20 million Pack Square Park.
The museum is expanding to address growing visitation and a growing permanent art collection that has tripled in size since 1996 and now includes nearly 2,500 works of art. Only 3 percent of the museum’s collection can currently be displayed in the museum’s limited space right now.