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Polshek and Partners chosen architects for project to renovate, expand Stanford University Museum of Art

STANFORD -- Stanford University President Gerhard Casper has announced the selection of Polshek and Partners of New York and San Francisco as architects for the project to renovate and expand the Stanford University Museum of A t. The project will result in the establishment of the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Center for the Visual Arts at Stanford.

The Cantors' $10 million gift to rebuild and expand the museum was announced in March.

In making the announcement, Casper said, "In my inaugural address, I referred to Stanford's motto, 'the wind of freedom blows,' and said that freedom both to engage in fearless inquiry and to speak one's mind robustly and witho ut inhibition was crucial to the process of learning. Nowhere is freedom of expression more evident than in the work of the visual artist, and a university museum fulfills the teaching and research mission by providing a resource for t he study of the history of artistic expression.

"James Polshek and [his associate partner] Richard Olcott have produced an innovative concept for the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Center for the Visual Arts, one which epitomizes the freedom of the artist and which subtly blends the historic building with a contemporary addition. The new Polshek-designed center will be a significant attraction to the campus, and an appropriate showcase for the visual arts at Stanford."

The Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Center will encompass the renovated 1891 building, which was severely damaged in the 1989 earthquake, an enhanced B. Gerald Cantor Rodin Sculpture Garden, and a new 36,000-square-foot wing, which w ill be dedicated primarily to 20th-century art. The project is scheduled for completion in 1997.

The selection process for the project's architect began in December with the establishment of the review committee, headed by Casper. Eighteen architectural firms were initially considered before the competition was narrowed to three firms: Arata Isozaki and Associates; Polshek and Partners; and Hartman/Cox in collaboration with William Turnbull and Associates.

Thomas K. Seligman, John and Jill Freidenrich Director of the Stanford Museum of Art, said, "I have admired the work of James Polshek and his partners for years and am delighted to have the opportunity to work with them on the museum project. Their concept for the renovation of the old building and its expansion gives evidence of the firm's sensitivity to the presentation of the museum's collections and to the complex operational needs of running a museum."

The program calls for the renovation and seismic upgrading of the existing 70,000-square-foot building and a new wing that would incorporate temporary and permanent exhibition galleries, internal garden courts, a lecture hall, seminar rooms and study areas, as well as visitor amenities such as a bookstore and cafe. The Polshek scheme links the new and existing structures and allows for a future sculpture garden devoted to 20th-century art.

Polshek and Partners is noted for its success in melding historic buildings with newly designed facilities. Founded in 1963, the firm has received numerous awards, including four National Honor Awards from the American Institut e of Architects (AIA). In 1992, Polshek and Partners was awarded the AIA Firm of the Year Award for 10 years of consistent excellence in architecture.

Among the firm's projects are Carnegie Hall restoration and renovation, New York; Center of the Arts Theater at Yerba Buena Gardens, San Francisco; Santa Fe Opera Master Plan and Theater; and the Brooklyn Museum renovation and expansion.

James Polshek said, "The physical uniqueness of Stanford - its climate, landscape and architecture - and its progressive intellectual traditions inspired us to create a design that merges a 19th-century museum with a 21st-centu ry addition without compromising either the old or the new."

The principal designer for the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Center for the Visual Arts project is associate partner Olcott, working with partners Polshek in New York and David Robinson in San Francisco.

The Cantors have been long-time supporters of Stanford. Since 1969, Cantor has supported Rodin studies, under the direction of Rodin scholar Albert Elsen, Walter A. Haas Professor of Art History in the Department of Art. The Ca ntors have donated 185 Rodin sculptures in bronze, plaster, terra-cotta, ceramic and stone, including The Thinker, The Gates of Hell, Burghers of Calais and The Three Shades to the Stanford Museum for its B. Gerald Cantor Rodin Sculptu re Garden and the Stanford campus outdoor art program.

In addition, Cantor has contributed extensive archival material, including manuscripts, drawings, photographs and memorabilia from Rodin's lifetime and other bibliographical materials. He established the Rodin Research Fund in the Department of Art, which enables doctoral candidates specializing in Rodin studies to conduct research and travel abroad. Known as "Cantor Fellows," many of the scholars are now on the staffs and faculties of major institutions suc h as New York's Museum of Modern Art and New York University; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden (Smithsonian Institution) in Washington, D.C.; and the Museum of Art at the Rhode Island School of Design.

Over the years, Stanford has become a major world resource on Rodin. Thanks to the Cantors, Seligman said, the museum's collections are augmented by the most complete Rodin holdings in existence outside the Musee Rodin in Paris .

The Stanford University Museum of Art, the only comprehensive museum between San Francisco and Santa Barbara, was founded in 1891 by Sen. Leland Stanford and his wife, Jane, in memory of their son, Leland Jr. The collections to day are composed of approximately 20,000 objects. In addition to significant holdings of Rodin sculpture, highlights include an important collection of American and European drawings, prints and photographs; and works of Asian art, Eur opean and American painting, and the art of Africa, Oceania and the Americas.

The Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Center for the Visual Arts will significantly enhance the educational mission of Stanford as a premier teaching and research facility, Seligman said. The center will serve Stanford faculty and stud ents and a large public constituency.


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