A SITE for sore eyes

Pasatiempo - - PASA REVIEWS -

SITE Santa Fe has al­ready raised $6.2 mil­lion of the $8.5 mil­lion sought from its SITE Tomorrow Cam­paign, a fund drive for an an­tic­i­pated mu­seum ex­pan­sion. “That’s pretty good,” SITE’s Phillips Di­rec­tor and chief cu­ra­tor Irene Hof­mann told Pasatiempo. “The build­ing will cost $6 mil­lion, but we also raise the money we need to run it.” SITE’s en­dow­ment is close to $7 mil­lion, but the institution wants to in­crease the en­dow­ment to $10 mil­lion over the next three years. The re­main­ing bal­ance from the cam­paign, mi­nus a $500,000 op­er­at­ing re­serve, will go to­ward in­creas­ing the en­dow­ment. “An op­er­at­ing re­serve for a small non­profit means we have cash on hand when we need it. You may re­mem­ber the time part of the roof caved in here. Things hap­pen.”

SITE’s ex­pan­sion plans call for a new, ded­i­cated space for SITElab, its on­go­ing ex­hi­bi­tion se­ries; a lec­ture and event space; ed­u­ca­tional fa­cil­i­ties; a court­yard and sky mez­za­nine; an ex­panded lobby; an out­door sculp­ture space; and a dy­namic new front en­try­way. The ex­pan­sion and ren­o­va­tion de­sign is the work of New York-based SHoP Ar­chi­tects, the firm be­hind the Bar­clays Cen­ter arena in Brook­lyn and Google Inc. of­fices in Moun­tain View, Cal­i­for­nia. “They’ve never done a mu­seum build­ing be­fore, and that’s pretty spe­cial for us in Santa Fe,” Hof­mann said. “They understand func­tion, how peo­ple move through build­ings, and how of­fices work. We were look­ing for a firm that had a lot of the same qual­i­ties as the artists that we show: in­no­va­tive, ex­per­i­men­tal.” SITE plans a SHoP show next spring that looks at the ar­chi­tec­ture firm’s projects and in­cludes ren­der­ings of the SITE ex­pan­sion plans.

SITE runs sev­eral ed­u­ca­tional pro­grams, the Young Cu­ra­tors and SITE Scholar Pro­gram among them, but the ex­ist­ing build­ing has no ad­e­quate space for classes to meet. “We’re just cre­at­ing the space that they need,” Hof­mann said. The cam­paign fund­ing would also pay for an up­grade to a more ef­fi­cient cli­mate­con­trol sys­tem. SITE spon­sors its own con­tem­po­rary art ex­hibits and hosts trav­el­ing shows, but in­ad­e­quate hu­mid­ity and tem­per­a­ture con­trols limit its abil­ity to bring in shows from other in­sti­tu­tions. “There’s a lot of art we haven’t been able to bring,” said Hof­mann. “Even bor­row­ing from an artist’s stu­dio — there’s work we know we just can’t bring here.”

SITElab, which ex­ists now as a small al­cove space at the far end of the lobby, would have 1,800 square feet of ex­hibit space in the ren­o­vated build­ing. SITElab stays open year-round to of­fer visi­tors some­thing to see when the main ex­hi­bi­tions are be­ing changed out, but the new space per­mits fuller-scale ex­hi­bi­tions or more than one ex­hi­bi­tion thanks to the ad­di­tion of a mov­able wall. “With just a few changes to the wall, you can walk in and ev­ery show looks dif­fer­ent.”

The lec­ture and event space planned for the back end of the build­ing can seat about 250 peo­ple or ac­com­mo­date 400 peo­ple who are stand­ing. The space is mul­ti­pur­pose and brings an­other 3,000 square feet to SITE. The sky mez­za­nine adds ex­hibit space for works that can be dis­played out­side, such as out­door sculp­ture and sound in­stal­la­tions.

Plans for the build­ing’s ex­te­rior in­clude con­struc­tion of a prow-shaped, per­fo­rated, an­odized alu­minum struc­ture un­der which visi­tors pass to get to the main en­trance. “What we asked SHoP to do was help us make the build­ing more wel­com­ing,” Hof­mann said. “We wanted what SITE is to be re­vealed. We wanted to really rip the front off the build­ing and let peo­ple look in.” The front wall of the build­ing will be moved closer to the street and be re­placed with glass so peo­ple can see in­side. Alu­minum cladding, match­ing the prow, cov­ers the rest of the build­ing. “What’s really nice about the cladding is that the old build­ing stays here,” she said. “We’re up­grad­ing the elec­tri­cal and all the me­chan­i­cals we need for this build­ing to last and adding onto the front and back, but the cladding is what’s uni­fy­ing it.” SHoP’s de­sign for SITE is sus­tain­able and green, in­cor­po­rat­ing re­cy­cled ma­te­ri­als, re­duced-wa­ter-use fix­tures, and a stormwa­ter de­sign for the ex­te­rior court­yard.

The sec­ond it­er­a­tion of SITE­lines, the bi­en­nial ex­hi­bi­tion se­ries, opens in July, and SITE breaks ground at the back of the build­ing in Au­gust. When SITE­lines closes in Jan­uary 2017, work be­gins at the front of the build­ing. “We hope to re­open by end of sum­mer, early fall of 2017,” Hof­mann said. — M.A.

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