We have become so inured to the idea of the grand cultural project as a catalyst for urban regeneration that there is something almost jarring about the idea of millions being spent on two institutions that sit in some of the most expensive real estate on earth. The Royal Academy (RA), founded in 1768, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, formed about a century later, are the fabric of the arts establishment in London and New York respectively. They have both, in their own ways, struggled slightly to keep up with the wave of money and excitement that has flowed through the art world as contemporary art has exploded across global cities. And they are both attempting to address the subject through expansions by the same architect, David Chipperfield.
Chipperfield has designed museums everywhere from Henley to Hangzhou and Anchorage, in Alaska, to Mexico City but since the warm reception that welcomed the rebirth of Berlin’s war-ravaged Neues Museum in 2009, he has become, alongside Renzo Piano, perhaps the pre-eminent practitioner of upscale museum expansions.
A favourite of boards of trustees, Chipperfield delivers serious, elegant new spaces that manage to combine respect for the historic fabric, a kind of high-minded modernity and a sense of generous, civic permanence. […]