olafur eliasson joins OMA’s expansion plans for albright-knox art gallery

the albright-knox art gallery, a museum in buffalo, new york, has announced that artist olafur eliasson and architect sebastian behmann, founding partners of studio other spaces, have been tasked with designing a work of art that will form part of the institution’s major expansion. following the news that OMA’s new york office, led by shohei shigematsu, had been selected to overhaul the art gallery’s existing campus, the first images of the expansion plans were revealed in june 2018. now, updated visualizations offer a closer look at the institution’s first expansion in more than half a century.

albright knox art gallery olafur eliasson
aerial view of the site | all images courtesy of albright-knox art gallery



inspired by buffalo’s weather and the museum’s lush park surroundings, studio other spaces’ design comprises a light canopy of glass and mirrors over the courtyard of the museum’s existing 1962 building. ‘common sky is an expansive sculpture through which visitors experience the constant motion of the surrounding natural environment,’ explains olafur eliasson. ‘the changing light conditions, the passing clouds, the progression of the sun over the course of the day, the flow of the seasons all resonate within this warm, welcoming space.’

albright knox art gallery olafur eliasson
view of the north building from iroquois drive



the work also intends to create a connection to the outside by allowing nature to extend into the courtyard through a hollow ‘trunk’, where rain can fall and snow can collect in the winter. ‘common sky is an instrument that uses transparent glass and mirror reflections to modulate visitors’ view into the trees of the park while generating an ever-changing shadow pattern on the ground,’ adds sebastian behmann. ‘it forms a new public space that will host shared experiences of the natural environment within its sheltering embrace.’

albright knox art gallery olafur eliasson
view of the north building from elmwood avenue



the museum also reports that OMA has refined its design for the site’s freestanding north building — optimizing and consolidating gallery spaces to establish a more compact, efficient footprint. ‘our goal was to enhance the clarity of the galleries and provide a diversity of experiences with art, landscape and the historic context,’ says shohei shigematsu. ‘we are excited to collaborate with studio other spaces whose artwork will create a covered public courtyard and an additional focal point within the museum campus.’

view of the north building from the 1905 building



in order to carry out the project, the albright-knox art gallery will close its elmwood avenue campus in late 2019. however, starting in early 2020, the museum will operate albright-knox northland, a 15,000-square-foot space at 612 northland avenue in buffalo, where it will host a range of exhibitions, performances, and special events. the institution will also increase its popular public art initiative, while a mobile art truck will visit communities throughout western new york, providing a range of art classes, projects, and activities. see designboom’s previous coverage of the project here.

common sky, 2019, by olafur eliasson and sebastian behmann of studio other spaces © studio other spaces

view of a gallery space in the north building

AK360 campus development and expansion project: architectural overview



project info:


name: AK360 campus development
location: buffalo, NY, USA
client: the albright-knox art gallery
architect: OMA new york / shohei shigematsu
artist: studio other spaces / olafur eliasson and sebastian behmann

philip stevens I designboom

apr 23, 2019

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