Colby College Museum of Art

Our collaboration with Colby College dates back over twenty years, and mutual trust allowed for risk-taking with the Alford-Lunder Family Pavilion.

After completing two wings of the Bixler Art Center in Colby’s brick vernacular, the Lunder Pavilion and the Crawford Art Studios, we designed the three-storied, glass-walled art museum addition to leak out into the environment, inviting the college’s historic, unique art collection to inspire the entire campus.
The pavilion contrasts Colby’s traditional Federal-style architecture – a narrow glass-skinned structure now stands amidst steeples, bricks and white columns. The dichotomy is synergistic, the glass reflecting the natural and architectural surroundings and thus merging with them. Just like the artwork it houses, the pavilion’s façade shifts as your perspective does. At night, it resembles a lantern, light emanating from all sides. We collaborated with engineers and subcontractors to ensure that the glass façade performs even in Maine’s extreme climate.
We aimed for versatility, because the collection requires it: mid-20th century masterpieces, like John Chamblerlain’s crushed metal monuments, hang comfortably here, as do 19th century paintings by Mary Cassatt. Sardonic, politically charged video art by Mexico City based Yoshua Okon recently played in the galleries.
The building incorporates permanent art installations as well. An expansive, rainbow-colored wall drawing by minimalist Sol Lewitt fills a stairwell, the colors and patterns visible from outside as well as in, signifying the Museum’s distinct presence on campus.
Sculptor Richard Serra’s 90-ton steel blocks stand in the entry courtyard, echoing the shape of the pavilion and extending its presence outward, further merging contemporary thought with Colby’s traditionalism. On the glass façade, a text artwork by Luis Camnitzer expresses the role of art at the College: “The Museum is a School. The artist learns to communicate. The public learns to make connections.”