The public won’t be allowed into the Barnes’ new home on the Parkway until next week, but the curious can get up close to the building now that the construction fence is gone. When I noticed the change late last week, I went poking around.
Perhaps the most striking new landscape feature on the Parkway side is the beautiful, low fountain near the corner of 20th, where water softly flows over the eastern edge of a long reflecting pool. The quiet feature is at once serene and inviting. Crews were busy planting the gardens, where pink azaleas add pops of color against the building’s textured white and beige stone cladding. The site hummed with activity that I could hear, but not exactly see. I am excited to get inside next week.
In case you just can’t wait, you can prep for opening day with a look through the Inquirer‘s huge special section all about the Barnes’ new home on the Parkway. Sunday’s coverage included a review of the new, yet familiar gallery spaces, a recounting of the Barnes’ history and the collection’s controversial move to Philadelphia, and a closer look at the architects’ extraordinary attention to detail. Online there’s a multimedia preview of galleries and landscape, complete with 360° views.
In her review, architecture critic Inga Saffron swoons over Tod Williams and Billie Tsien’s design, but finds the site plan too contextually compromised to be successful. She appreciates the updated gallery experience, the rich attention to detail, and sensitive design, but lamented the site’s auto-centricity and lack of interaction with the Parkway itself.
The Barnes is, in the words of Tod Williams, “a place apart.”