Introduction to Stone Hill Center at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts

This project is Tadao Ando's most recent building in the United States and only his third work here. (See the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth for an earlier work.) This is the first of two buildings that Ando has designed for the Clark Institute; the latter, slated for completion in 2013, will include a Visitors' Center, Conference facilities, and exhibition space. That building in Phase II is usually described as the gateway building and as less understated.

Ando's signature building material is pale grey concrete, although this building is steel and wood as well as concrete. But the concrete has been detailed to look like wood. Acid was used to bring out the grain in the wood so that the plank-impressed concrete also has been imprinted with wood grain. (See a close-up here.) In addition, the steel has been painted grey as well and the cedar has been bleached to grey. Tonal effects as these are sometimes described as poetically minimalist.

Another important quality in Ando's aesthetic is an integration of architecture with the landscape. This art and conservation center is situated in a wooded setting on a sloping hill and seems to emerge from the slope of the hill. Tall meadow grass grows naturally around the site and gravel paths and scenic trails punctuate the site. (Reed Hilderbrand Associates provided the sensitive understanding of the Berkshire s' special landscape.) A second floor terrace gives magnificent views of the Taconic Range and Green Mountains and a windowed wall in the courtyard frames additional natural views, similar to the wall Ando used in the cafe terrace of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. The campus of the Clark Institute is unique in its rural setting with rolling hills and woods; the Stone Hill Center is a pleasant walk's distance from the main buildings.

This two-story building, devoted to exhibition space on the upper floor (2500 square feet of gallery space in the two galleries) and to the art conservation center offices on the lower level, is small--about 32,000 square feet. Classrooms and meeting rooms, and service areas occupy the rest of the space. The intimate galleries will be used to exhibit non-western and 19th century art.

Index to Images of the Stone Hill Center

(70 images; all of the images were photographed in August, 2008)

Views of the South Facade (front)

12 images

Views of the Entrance

7 images

Views of the East End

10 images

Views of the North Facade

10 images

Views of the Courtyard

12 images

Views of the Courtyard from above

6 images

Views of the North Facade and West End

12 images

Views of the Interior

3 images

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© 2008 Mary Ann Sullivan. I have photographed (on site), scanned, and manipulated all the images on these pages. Please feel free to use them for personal or educational purposes. They are not available for commercial purposes.