The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, CT is an integral part of its community and noted for being one of the first contemporary art galleries in the nation. The museum embarked on a major renovation in 2000, siting a new 25,000 square-foot stand-alone addition on its narrow, sloping lot, approximately eight feet below the existing museum’s finished grade.
The goal for the RBA team was to unify the architectural composition and design a landscape that could accommodate both the display and on-site creation of contemporary art. Using the grade differential as an opportunity, the project features an amphitheater and courtyards and clearings that negotiate the change in topography; link and expand museum programming space; and organize pedestrian circulation. The Granite pavers within the entry court continue into the main museum lobby to link indoor and outdoor spaces, as do site wall materials and detailing that is repeated in the new building foundation. Behind the building, a half-acre sculpture garden reflects the vernacular landscape of orchard trees, stonewalls, and undulant topography typical of the surrounding area. When combined, these elements create the museum’s rooms for hosting events, open-air classrooms, performances, and sculptural displays.