Located on the Erie Canal, the former art center included a 7,000-square-foot library and limited gallery space to display the collection of artwork procured by Bartlett Arkell, the founder of Beechnut Foods. Ryan Biggs | Clark Davis provided the structural design for an 18,800-square-foot, steel-framed addition that is predominantly gallery, collection storage, and office space.
Large gatherings and presentations can now be accommodated in the new Great Hall, which also serves as an open art gallery. The floor of the Great Hall is a piece of artwork in itself and features exposed, stained-concrete slabs depicting historical scenes and a map of the surrounding area. The building is topped with a sign reading “ARKELL,” which is reminiscent of the high-profile “BEECHNUT” sign, both of which are visible from the adjacent New York State Thruway.
The building is clad with white glazed brick and field limestone, which matches the original slate-clad mansard roof of the existing library.
The structural system includes structural steel beams and columns; plywood-sheathed, cold-formed metal stud shear walls; a composite concrete slab and steel beam floor system; and cast-in-place concrete basement walls. Another striking feature of the addition is the one-story Memorial Walk along the north side of the existing building. This steel-framed, glass-clad addition provides views of the restored Memorial Garden and direct access to the Night Watch Gallery, which houses the historic “Night Watch” oil painting.