Over the past week, news of one allegedly-very-old tree cut down on the University of Louisville’s campus where a wHY Architecture-designed addition to the Speed Art Museum is being built has tree experts in Louisville counting rings on a stump. Students creating a map of all 2,500 trees on the University’s campus as part of Dr. Tommy Parker’s Urban Wildlife Research Lab had estimated the tree was over 300 years old, generating an impassioned oped in the student newspaper. The Speed and local news sources looked further into the mysterious tree, using the stump and historical photos of the museum (above) to determined that the tree was really only 60 years old. Steven Bowling, Director of Marketing and Communications at the Speed Art Museum, also wrote in with this statement about the tree’s removal:
As part of the Speed Art Museum’s long planned expansion, the Speed and its architect, wHY Architecture, carefully analyzed the site and its space constraints. The goals were threefold: to protect the Museum’s 1927 historic building to accommodate the Speed’s growing audience, to link the expanded green spaces of the Museum with the University of Louisville Campus and to seamlessly integrate art and nature on the 6-acre site. During the planning phase, the Speed, together with the architects, reviewed several possibilities in consultation with landscape architects and an arborist to expand the Museum’s footprint with minimal interruption to the historic building, the surrounding area, and trees within the Museum’s footprint. In the final plan, the tree needed to be removed. Removal of the tree, which the arborist determined was 60 years old, allows the site to be re-graded and expands accessibility for all visitors to the Museum and its grounds. While both the Museum and the architects regret the removal of that tree, the new Speed Art Museum which will re-open in 2016 will provide students and visitors with expanded green space that includes an art park and public piazza, as well as the planting of more than 40 new trees.
[Editor's Note: Following the publishing of this story, the Speed Art Museum and tree researchers studied the tree, determining that it was, in fact, not three centuries old, nor a Valley Oak. The tree in question is now believed to be a 60-year-old English Oak. Read the update here.]
The Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Kentucky, is currently closed to visitors until 2015 while a dramatic stacked-box addition is built to the north of the institution’s original 1927 neo-Classical building on the University of Louisville’s Olmsted-designed Belknap Campus. The $50 million expansion, designed by Culver City, CA-based wHY Architecture with Reed Hilderbrand Landscape Architects, who were later dropped from the project, will triple the museum’s gallery space and add to the already robust arts scene in Louisville.
This week, one alert writer at the student newspaper, The Louisville Cardinal, noticed something missing at the construction site: the University’s oldest tree. The approximately 309-year-old Valley Oak had been cut down when the site was cleared late last year. Only a stump now remains behind the construction fence. The author, Wesley Kerrick, noted the tree pre-dates not just the University, but the city, state, and country in which it resides, as it sprouted sometime in the late 17th or early 18th century. Kerrick expressed frustration over the fact that the tree couldn’t have been saved.
Louisville’s Speed Art Museum has unveiled plans for a new addition designed by Culver City, CA-based wHY Architecture with Reed Hilderbrand landscape architects. Located on the campus of the University of Louisville, the museum hopes to increase connections with the city and the university along with increasing gallery and educational space. The scope of wHY’s work includes 200,000 square feet of new and renovated space in three phases valued at $79 million. The first phase including the new north structure will begin construction this year.
A fly-through (after the jump) offers a peak at the design, which calls for a simple monumental form next to the 1920s-era Beaux-Arts main building that cantilevers over a stand of trees forming an outdoor room and cafe on the campus facing side. A large garage-like door opens out to the garden. The street facing side features an outdoor amphitheatre-like seating set in the ground and a large reflecting pool. A cantilever staircase will be visible through the street facing facade.
On Friday, the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Kentucky announced the selection of Watertown, MA-based Reed Hilderbrand as the landscape architect for its planned
renovation and expansion, led by LA-based wHY Architecture. The encyclopedic museum sits on the campus of the University of Louisville, and across from a park designed by the Olmsted firm. The museum has put a special emphasis the landscape strategy of the project, which they hope will help open up the museum to the campus and the community at large. The museum expects to release designs in Spring 2010. Read More