Photo: Jeff Cully/EEFAS
The Hamptons got an injection of culture when the new Parrish Art Museum, the first new art museum on the East End in a century, opened its doors in Water Mill this weekend.Plans to move the museum from its longtime home in Southampton to the hamlet of Water Mill were announced several years ago, but it wasn’t a smooth journey.
After Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron revealed its blueprints for the new structure, the project’s $80 million budget was slashed by two thirds and the architects were forced to go back to the drawing board.
The result was a simplified design — instead of interlocking galleries, the museum was built as a long, narrow barn with a corrugated roof, New York Times architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff wrote in 2009.
For the most part, Ouroussoff liked the scaled-back design, noting that it took advantage of the light and blended well with the surroundings. But he lamented that the architects were forced to simplify their design to keep within their budget:
What’s scary is what the design suggests about the future. Is this kind of downscaling the beginning of a trend? Herzog & de Meuron is not the only architecture firm that is being put through this process. Just a few days after I saw the new Parrish design, Rem Koolhaas told me that he was in a similar predicament over a condo and screening room design in Manhattan.
It makes you wonder if the cultural consequences of the financial collapse will be as liberating as some have predicted. I’ll be as gleeful as anyone if the excesses and vulgarities of the past decade really do turn out to be over. But it will be a shame if the atmosphere of creative experimentation that coincided with them is over too.
Even so, now that the building is complete, reactions have been mostly positive. Bloomberg’s James S. Russell recently visited and praised its simplicity, writing:
Up close the Parrish is quietly monumental. Its great length — 615 feet, or about two football fields — and almost windowless solidity exude a powerful primordial calm. It makes the many dormers of the wannabe French Provincial winery next door look tortured.
The new Parrish has three times the exhibition space of the old museum, as well as an event space that will likely be popular with the Hamptons society crowd come summer. Its collection includes more than 2,600 works, many of which are on display for the first time.
Photographer Jeff Cully at EEFAS praised the new museum’s size and open layout. He shot some aerial video of the museum in the days before the opening, and shared it with us.
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