- Jul 30, 2019
It is understood that the highest level of quality and attention to detail are required when working within a museum space. However, this meticulousness does not end within the interior space, but extends to the exterior – where adherence to the same set of standards is paramount to the overall success of the facility’s aesthetics.
With the recent completion of the renovation and expansion project at the acclaimed Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, Florida, it is important to reflect upon the exacting level of detail required on the exterior of the Art Deco building. Housing more than 7,600 works of art from American, Chinese, European, Contemporary and Photographic genres, the Norton Museum of Art has served as a cultural centerpiece in South Florida since its founding in 1941. The recent revitalization drastically transformed and re-oriented the existing entrance from the south side to the west side of the building, restoring the original east-west axis and allowing the facility to stand prominently along the area’s main thoroughfare.
The new, west-facing entrance features a 44-foot cantilevered roof canopy hovering gracefully above the new plaza and encircling an existing 80-year-old, 65-foot-tall, Banyan Tree. Paramount to Foster + Partner’s overall design concept, the complex knife-edge roofing system was to be constructed without obstructing the tree’s growth and preserving its grandeur as a focal point for the facility.
Innovative Approaches and Techniques
Successful installation of the roofing system involved:
- collaboration among the design team, our internal virtual design and construction team and an arborist;
- the use of ground penetrating sonar to map the existing root structure;
- and various laser scans to create virtual models of the tree.
Through these approaches, potential obstructions were identified early on and enabled all stakeholders to visualize the roof lines around the tree and long-term effects of the new metal panel system on the tree due to sunlight and shadowing.
Laser scanning also allowed for a comprehensive scaffolding approach, enabled verification of both the design and position of the cantilevered roof and provided the ability to develop an accurate pruning schedule for the tree.
Through innovative techniques and active engagement among all team members, a meticulous design was executed flawlessly – not only preserving the integrity of the landscape but also the identity of the Norton Museum as a cultural centerpiece in southern Florida.
Recently recognized as one of the most beautiful museums opening in 2019, the New Norton is a work of art in and of itself.