The Isabella Gardner Museum has recently agreed to build a new extension on account of the continuous increase in visits over recent years. The extra space is needed not only to provide visitors with extra facilities, like rooms for concerts and special exhibitions, but also to create space for conservation and restoration. To create this new area the museum turned to the architect Renzo Piano, whose masterful design succeeds in respecting its context while clearly talking the language of contemporary architecture. The museum's original building, the starting point for the extension, was opened in 1902 by the collector Isabella Stewart Gardner who gave her name to the museum. This lady art lover came to Boston from New York in 1860 when she married Lowell Gardner, one of the city's wealthiest men and together they purchased numerous artworks from the Medici family. At this point Isabella decided to build a Renaissance style Venetian palazzo in a new area of Boston just outside the city. The building, destined to become the Gardner Museum, was designed around a central courtyard that was kept full of flowers, while the walls inside were adorned with paintings by Raphael, Titian, Giorgione, Piero della Francesca, Paolo Uccello, Botticelli, Vermeer, Rembrandt, Degas, Manet and John Singer. The building's new wing is located behind the original complex and is built of glass and oxidised copper, which adds a touch of green to the structure that links it to the parkland behind. The central feature of the architectural composition, though, is the natural light that enhances the soaring height of the entrance. This space is also light up at night by suspended Le Perroquet luminaires that turn the structure's glass design into a kind of lantern for the city. The first of the four extension blocks is the 6000 m², 300-seat concert hall, called the Calderwood Hall. It is the largest space and has a distinctive vertical design. At the centre is the stage and around that, along the walls, are a series of boxes that create a close and intense relationship between space and music. Here, too, suspended Le Perroquet luminaires have been used to animate the lofty space.
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