, Salem, MA

Local News

August 13, 2013

PEM selects NYC firm for project

Expansion to add 175,000 square feet

SALEM — A New York City architectural firm has been selected to take over design of Peabody Essex Museum’s $200 million expansion.

Ennead Architects, which recently completed an addition to the Yale University Art Gallery, was chosen following a competition among five firms.

“We’re very interested in working with a firm that has the capability to provide unique architectural solutions to the sorts of goals we have and the challenges involved in doing an expansion the size we’re doing within the context of downtown Salem,” said Dan Monroe, the museum’s director and CEO.

Ennead Architects takes over for Rick Mather Architects of London following the death this spring of its founder, Rick Mather.

Monroe said PEM was also searching for a firm that will be “responsive ... to our guidance and direction.”

Monroe oversaw a 2003 expansion designed by architect Moshe Safdie, which included a new wing, outdoor gardens, a small park and a 200-year-old Chinese house.

In this expansion, the museum is adding 175,000 square feet of new galleries, space for public events and educational programming, and a ground-floor restaurant. A rooftop garden envisioned two years ago when plans were first announced will “probably not” be built, Monroe said.

It will be at least 18 months before plans are filed with the city, he said. The project, which originally was slated to be done by 2016, now has a completion date of 2019.

When the new addition opens, PEM’s total gallery space will rank among the top 10 American art museums, Monroe said.

PEM is about to complete the first phase of this large and complex project, which includes a rooftop penthouse that will house the museum’s mechanical and electrical systems, and renovations to the Dodge wing, which is expected to open to the public in November.

Ennead Architects has also done work for American Museum of Natural History, Brooklyn Museum and William J. Clinton Presidential Center.

Tom Dalton can be reached at

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