The couple bought their penthouse, which is on the 17th and 18th floors of the limestone-clad 740 Park, for $27.5 million in 2006. They purchased it from the estate of Enid A. Haupt, a noted philanthropist and passionate supporter of the New York Botanical Garden, several months after her death. Ms. Haupt, who was a daughter of the publishing magnate Moses L. Annenberg, had moved into the apartment in 1967.
Long regarded as one of New York City’s most prestigious addresses, 740 Park has housed many other wealthy and powerful residents, from John D. Rockefeller Jr., to more recently, the Blackstone Group founder Stephen A. Schwarzman and the billionaire businessman David H. Koch. (Not surprisingly, financing is not permitted for purchases there.) The building was designed in the late 1920s by the architect Rosario Candela and developed by James T. Lee, a grandfather of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, who also lived there.
The Thains said they spent two years making numerous improvements and upgrades to their penthouse, in collaboration with the architect Oscar Shamamian and the interior designer Michael S. Smith. Their work included refurbishing the elaborate architectural finishes (and adding a few of their own), renovating the kitchen and bathrooms, and reinstalling stairs to the roof. They also added a Crestron home automation system.
“It appeared to have been abandoned for a number of years,” Mr. Thain said, describing the apartment’s previous condition. “Fireplaces were closed up and even the roof-level terrace space was completely shut off.”
“I think the previous owner had been wary of intruders,” Ms. Thain added.
The unit’s early-20th century charm has since been restored. Throughout the home — filled with an eclectic mix of antiques, traditional furnishings and striking artwork — are ornate plaster and wood moldings, Parquet de Versailles hardwood floors, functioning wood-burning fireplaces, French doors and oversize windows. Ceilings on the main level reach 12 feet.
“It’s a very elegant apartment,” Mr. Burger said. “You just don’t see these kinds of opulent details anymore.”
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The apartment has three bedrooms and three and a half baths, plus an office that could be converted into a fourth bedroom. There is ample outdoor space — with two terraces on the lower level, a wraparound terrace on the top floor and the recreated roof deck — that provide stunning cityscape and Central Park vistas.
“That’s the best part of this side of 740 Park: You have park views,” Mr. Burger said of the building’s west wing, where the penthouse is situated. “The light here is just fantastic.”
On the home’s main level, a private elevator landing opens to a stately windowed gallery 27 feet long, with a grand elliptical staircase and entry to a 15-by-14-foot west-facing terrace. The gallery leads to an enormous living room that also connects to the terrace. It is anchored by a richly carved marble fireplace, one of three in the apartment, and flows into the formal dining room.
Off the dining room is a butler’s pantry with two dishwashers, and beyond that, a large eat-in kitchen with custom marble flooring and a spacious pantry and laundry area. The kitchen is equipped with stainless-steel appliances like a Wolf stove and Sub-Zero refrigerator and wine cooler and also features a stainless-steel center island.
The most eye-catching features in the kitchen are the geometric plaster medallions along the ceiling perimeter — a design idea of Ms. Thain, who wanted to replicate the ornamental details found at the top of the building’s facade.
The apartment’s main floor also contains a small bedroom and an office, both of which share a bathroom, as well as a powder room and a library. The 16-by-19-foot library, lined with sumptuous wood paneling by Féau & Cie of Paris, has a fireplace and French doors that open to a small south-facing terrace.
On the second floor is another spacious gallery, along with a sizable master bedroom with walk-in closets and a fireplace, and a guest bedroom currently being used as a study. Each bedroom has an en-suite marble bath. The master bath features heated floors and a separate soaking tub. Both bedrooms open to the wraparound terrace, with eating and lounging areas.
This floor is reachable via the main staircase and service stairs off the kitchen, as well as a private elevator bank off the gallery. A third set of stairs from this floor connects to the teak roof deck, with trellis walls and various plantings like climbing hydrangea.
Mr. Thain said the roof deck was one of his favorite spots in the penthouse, and one that he will miss the most. “It’s a beautiful space, and it has amazing views.”
Avoiding any hierarchy of prestige or loss, privates take their place alongside generals and national heroes. No battles are deemed more or less important than others.
“Once we introduced the concept of unity and equality, it solved all the problems and prevented the arguments,” said Aryeh Muallem, deputy director general of the Israeli Ministry of Defense and head of its Bereaved Families, Commemoration and Heritage department.
Preserving morale is considered critical in a small country where most 18-year-olds are drafted for years of compulsory military service. Last Memorial Day, about 1.5 million Israelis, or roughly one-sixth of the population, visited military cemeteries around the country.
But Israelis cannot even agree on what to call some hostilities, like Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon, which is criticized by many here as an unjustified “war of choice.” Officially called Operation Peace for Galilee, it is usually referred to as the First Lebanon War.
Mr. Muallem said the memorial was the outcome of a long dialogue with representatives of bereaved families. They presented the state with a challenge, wanting their dead to be remembered individually, on the day they had fallen.
So each inscribed brick has a light beside it, which is illuminated on the personal anniversary. At 11 a.m. every day, a brief remembrance ceremony is held for those killed on that date, as their names and images appear on digital screens mounted on 12 pillars. The screens, and a smartphone app, provide more information about the dead.
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The wall begins with rows upon rows of blank white bricks, waiting ominously for more names; the design imposes no limit. The first names a visitor sees are the most recent fatalities, and then the wall spirals back to the 1870s, commemorating the earliest casualties of the Zionist struggle and the soldiers of Zionist militias who fought and died before independence.
“We decided to begin from the end, with what most speaks to us today,” said Michal Kimmel-Eshkolot of Kimmel Eshkolot Architects, which designed the monument. The inscribed bricks are no higher than about six feet from the floor, she said during a recent tour of the site, “so a mother can reach up and touch the name.”
Etan Kimmel, the chief architect of the project, wrote in the brochure that the challenge had been to create a space “in a way that touches everyone, but without imposing a uniform interpretation.”
That is at least partly because the issue of war dead still stirs painful debate in Israel.
When it was announced last month that Miriam Peretz, who lost two sons in combat and who then dedicated herself to Zionist education, was to be awarded the Israel Prize for lifetime achievement, another bereaved mother, Nomi Miller, criticized the choice as a cynical glorification of suffering.
“We, the mothers, are not worthy of any prize,” she wrote in an impassioned Facebook post that elicited thousands of sympathetic reactions. “Our sons’ lives ended forever because our country continues to choose to live by the sword. Fight for peace.”
Before the Memorial Hall, most of Israel’s fallen had been commemorated in museums or monuments established by veterans of particular battles or military corps, or in private memorials scattered around the country. But about 3,000 soldiers were not memorialized anywhere.
The idea for a national monument goes back to 1949, when Israel’s leadership proposed erecting a tomb of the unknown soldier. But the location kept changing, and bereaved relatives had no interest in the idea, arguing that their loved ones were not anonymous, according to Prof. Maoz Azaryahu, director of the Herzl Institute for the Study of Zionism at the University of Haifa, Israel.
“When I go back, the whole story of commemoration here in Israel is about names,” Professor Azaryahu said. In the new hall, “metaphorically, the bricks — the names — are the building material of the whole structure.”
Mount Herzl became the focal point of Israeli memory, with its military cemetery and tombs of the founding fathers.
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But the idea for a collective monument was quietly dropped until the 1970s, when a plan was developed to build a museum of war and military heritage and a memorial complex on Mount Eitan, outside Jerusalem.
Committees sat. Architects planned. Large amounts of money were invested. Historians, experts and intellectuals filled files with recommendations.
“The new left wanted it to begin in 1948,” said Udi Lebel, a professor of sociology at Ariel University in the West Bank and at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University. “Others wanted it to begin with the Bible and Jericho.”
There were arguments about how to present the consequences of the 1967 war, with some viewing the newly occupied territories as a card for peace negotiations and others as the liberation of Greater Israel. Some wanted the Mount Eitan project to lift morale and encourage service. Others worried about presenting Israel as a militaristic, Sparta-like state.
The debates went on until the 1990s. By then, Israel was signing peace accords with the Palestinians and a treaty with Jordan, and many felt it was not the time to build a war museum.
The push for a memorial resumed in the following decade, finally leading to construction.
“What went up in the end is a place with one function only — to give the names of the fallen,” said Professor Lebel, who specializes in collective memory and the politics of bereavement, adding that even one sentence about how they died could be cause for argument.
“That reflects Israel,” he said. “The only consensus there can be here is empathy for the families and remembering the victims. There is no consensus over the past and we are still living the conflict.”
His timing could hardly seem better, with technology rapidly democratizing the instruments of forensic research and the purview of young architects widening. He begins his recent book, “Forensic Architecture,” recalling the libel trial in London of the Holocaust denier and historian David Irving, nearly two decades ago. Mr. Irving’s shameful case relied on a tidbit of architectural evidence: he made much of fuzzy satellite imagery showing a demolished crematory at Auschwitz. Survivors had said they recalled poison cyanide gas canisters dropped through a hole in the crematory’s roof, but Mr. Irving said there was no hole in the satellite photos. “No hole, no Holocaust,” became the deniers’ catchphrase.
Mr. Irving lost his trial. But Mr. Weizman cites the case as a cautionary tale. The tools of forensic analysis can easily be perverted. Wielded especially by governments and other powers in defense of violence and crime, they need to be challenged by equally sophisticated means. Architecture and forensics may be disparate disciplines but brought together they could produce a new, “different mode of practice,” Mr. Weizman realized. They could help reverse “the forensic gaze” back onto state agencies “that usually monopolize it.”
Adopting a phrase coined by the photographer Allan Sekula, Mr. Weizman terms the practice “counter forensics.”
I stopped by the group’s office in southeast London the other day. A dozen or so researchers were staring into computer screens, Nick Masterton among them. He was tinkering with a timeline and 3D computer model of the Grenfell Tower fire that killed 71 people in London last year. Mr. Masterton and the rest of the Grenfell team have spent the last several months knitting together thousands of open-source photographs, videos and reams of metadata related to the fire.
Mr. Masterton told me he’s using some of the techniques he learned in architecture school when so-called parametric design was the rage. Forensic Architecture relies on computer programs and digital animation software that model exotic building shapes to reconstitute bombed-out ruins, identify debris patterns from drone strikes and document tragedies like the fire. And of course Mr. Masterton scours the Web for images.
It has become a cliché that smartphones and social media today flood the world with pictures that change public debates around power, policing, violence and race. For Mr. Weizman, the “image flotsam,” as he calls it, can be as confounding as it can be useful and it needs to be assembled. It requires “construction and composition — thus, architecture,” in his words. The resulting “architectural image complex” functions like a lens, letting people “see the scene of a crime as a set of relations between images in time and space.”
Christina Varvia is now Forensic Architecture’s research coordinator. “What we do is in the tradition of ‘paper architecture,’” she told me, when I asked how her work relates to what she did as an architect. “Except we expect results. As architects, we’re also trained to bring different people together to produce a design. But instead, we synthesize evidence.”
Since 2011, when Mr. Weizman founded the agency, its work has expanded beyond Israel and the Palestinian territories to Mexico, Guatemala, Afghanistan and Europe. Its investigation into whether a German undercover agent lied about witnessing the murder of a man of Turkish descent at an internet cafe is one of the most intriguing and mysterious cases at the Institute of Contemporary Arts.
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One of the most heartbreaking involves Saydnaya, the infamous prison outside Damascus.
Since the start of Syria’s civil war, thousands have disappeared inside that country’s detention centers. At Saydnaya, prisoners are kept in darkness, tortured and beaten if they speak. No outsiders are allowed access. There are no recent photographs of the inside.
Working with Amnesty International, Forensic Architecture interviewed five former Saydnaya detainees in Istanbul. The researchers asked the prisoners to describe the building. Trauma unhinges memory, but architecture can provide an anchor. No detail was considered too trivial. Based on remembered smells of grease and blood, and sounds like an idling truck engine delivering new prisoners or the approaching thud of guards beating inmates, cell by cell, Forensic Architecture constructed a computer model of Saydnaya.
“When a state commits a crime,” Mr. Weizman explained, “it cordons off an area, which is the privilege of the state. That site becomes a work of architecture, defined by the cordon. A prison by definition is architecture. You can try to break through the state cordon via leaks, media images, satellite photographs. And when they’re not available, memory is a way around the cordon. In any case, the cordoned area is our ‘building site.’”
At Umm al-Hiran, the Bedouin village that was raided, the building site became the dusty hill where the car struck the police officer. The supposed terrorist in that case was a farmer named Yaqub Musa Abu al-Qi’an. The Israeli policeman he ran over was named Erez Levi.
Collaborating with ActiveStills, an Israeli-based photographic collective, Forensic Architecture used photogrammetry and collected, time stamped and synchronized every available image and video of the raid, producing a corresponding soundtrack. The soundtrack, when played alongside the thermal-imaging videos, revealed the pops of three gunshots where heat flashes emerged from a policeman’s weapon that had been overlooked in the silent helicopter footage. The weapon was fired at Mr. Abu al-Qi’an’s car just before it accelerated down a hill and into Mr. Levi.
Not long after that discovery, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz published a leaked autopsy report revealing that Mr. Abu al-Qi’an had suffered two bullet wounds, one in his right knee, the leg controlling the gas pedal. The wound raised an alternative explanation for why Mr. Abu al-Qi’an, who had been moving slowly, with his lights on, suddenly accelerated, as if losing control of his vehicle.
The police continued to insist he was a terrorist, but more than a month after the raid Israel’s security service and Ministry of Justice changed the story and attributed the incident to a police blunder.
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That still left unexplained the second bullet, which villagers testified to seeing an Israeli officer fire at point-blank range into Mr. Abu al-Qi’an after his car had stopped.
So Forensic Architecture continued its investigation.
With volunteers, it reenacted the event at Umm al-Hiran, using the same model car, confirming that the scenario in which a wounded Mr. Abu al-Qi’an lost control and sped down the hill matched the video evidence. It also turned out that the doors of a Land Cruiser lock automatically when the vehicle reaches 20 kilometers an hour, as Mr. Abu al-Qi’an’s car did before swerving to a standstill at the bottom of the hill.
In helicopter footage, the driver’s side door can be seen to open when the police surround the stopped vehicle, implying Mr. Abu al-Qi’an willingly opened it. A single gunshot then pierces the soundtrack.
That second bullet lodged beneath Mr. Abu al-Qi’an’s heart. The leaked autopsy report said he bled to death from this wound, while medical aid was withheld.
An investigation by the justice ministry into the event recently concluded, without any apparent indictments. The case awaits a final verdict by the state attorney.
Markus Brunetti’s enormous photographs pack a healthy jolt of wonder, something more likely felt in the 19th century, when the medium was invented. I felt some of it in 2015 at “Facades,” Mr. Brunetti’s American debut at the Yossi Milo Gallery. It’s still palpable in this second show there, “Facades — Grand Tour,” through April 14.
Mr. Brunetti, who was born in Germany in 1965, had worked for about two decades in advertising when, in 2005, he switched to a more singular vocation. He became an itinerant photographer of one of photography’s oldest subjects, the religious architecture of medieval Europe, and used the latest technology to capture the facades of these landmarks with an astounding clarity of detail.
Mr. Brunetti began traveling around Europe with his partner, Betty Schoener, and what the gallery calls “a self-contained computer lab on wheels,” making color images of cathedrals, churches and cloisters mostly from between the 11th and 14th centuries. The structures are very large, and so are the images — up to 10 feet tall.
The wonder lies in giving the eye more than it can see. The facades are recorded one square meter at a time, from a fixed position; then these tiny images — from 1,000 to 2,000 — are painstakingly stitched together. The final photograph has a bracing sharpness. Every feature is visible, from the narrative reliefs above the main doors to the gargoyles and spires high above, to the color and textures of the stone.
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But that is only part of an uncanny, total focus, which cannot be experienced in real life (except perhaps by insects with compound eyes). Mr. Brunetti’s images are more aggressive than most because his subjects ignore perspective. His church towers do not lean back into the sky as they would if you were looking up at them or seeing a photograph made in a single shot. The lack of normal optical recession gives them an implacable, almost physical presence, especially the really tall cathedrals of Wells, Somerset, England; Orléans, France; or Nuremberg, Germany.
These photographs are like an architect’s elevation drawings, only much more solid. They also convey how the cathedrals once sat, and in some cases still do, above their towns and cities like large, protective beasts. Some of the buildings come to feel like the architectural equivalents of Barney. You may want to hug them.
Not long after she joined Richard Meier’s architecture firm in 1989, Karin Bruckner was working at the office one Sunday, she said, when Mr. Meier came up beside her at a copy machine and started rubbing his body up and down against hers.
“I just stood there and froze,” Ms. Bruckner said. “‘This is not happening’ — that’s the first thing you think about — ‘He’s not doing this right now, I’m sure he’s not doing this.’”
She later confided to John Eisler, a senior associate, about what had occurred, and Mr. Eisler was sympathetic.
“It’s not something that was a secret,” he said in a recent interview about Mr. Meier’s conduct. But Mr. Eisler, who spent 20 years at the firm, said he did not confront Mr. Meier after hearing from Ms. Bruckner.
“I am sorry,” he said, “that I did not.”
After a report last month by The New York Times detailing a pattern of sexual misconduct by Mr. Meier, more women have come forward to share their own upsetting encounters with him. But in recounting such experiences, these women said they had also been disturbed by a sense of helplessness that pervaded the firm. Mr. Meier’s behavior was common knowledge, they said, but no one seemed to have the power to stop it.
Over the last six months, a number of fields have been forced to reckon with revelations regarding powerful men who harassed or assaulted underlinings, some for many years, without being stopped by their companies or organizations.
At Richard Meier & Partners Architects, there was no one more powerful than Mr. Meier, a world-famous architect whose firm depended on him for its prestige and success. It was years before #MeToo; protesting harassment was far more perilous.
Ms. Bruckner said she did not fault Mr. Eisler for his silence.
“I don’t think he felt he had any power to do anything about it,” said Ms. Bruckner, who worked at the firm until 1992, when she left to work for the architect Philip Johnson. She said people in the office were too afraid of what would happen to the firm, and their jobs, should Mr. Meier’s name be sullied.
“It’s behavior that goes on for decades and never changes,” she said. “‘We don’t go up against the bad guy because it will have a domino effect; if he falls down, everybody else falls down.’”
Following the initial Times report, which involved five women, Mr. Meier, 83, said that “while our recollections may differ, I sincerely apologize to anyone who was offended by my behavior.” He said he would take a six-month leave from his firm.
Four more women have since come forward to share their experiences concerning Mr. Meier: Ms. Bruckner; Eileen Delgado, a former office manager; Lucy Nathanson, Mr. Meier’s former personal assistant; and Liz Lee, who worked as the communications coordinator.
Through a spokesman, Mr. Meier and his partners declined to be interviewed about the new accusations but issued this statement: “The allegations involving Richard Meier, the most recent of which were nearly a decade old, do not reflect the ethos and culture of the firm, and it would be irresponsible to allow these personal allegations to tarnish the company.”
It is unclear to what extent executives at the firm, including Mr. Meier’s partners, were aware of the sexual advances women are now publicly describing. Most of the women said they were too afraid for their jobs to lodge formal complaints with the management.
But some women did, and the firm appears to have reached at least two settlements. Ms. Delgado said she received about $25,000 in 1992 after Mr. Meier threw himself on top of her.
As reported earlier, Alexis Zamlich received $150,000 in 2009 after Mr. Meier had exposed himself to her, and another employee — Laura Trimble Elbogen — reported that Mr. Meier had asked her to undress, accounts that have been confirmed by the firm’s former chief operating officer.
All three episodes were said to have occurred in Mr. Meier’s Upper East Side apartment.
The firm has declined to discuss any settlements, but it said that after the two 2009 incidents, it instituted its first sexual harassment training program and updated its sexual harassment policy, which was put in the company handbook in 1993. No women have come forward to report negative experiences at the firm from after 2009.
Ms. Delgado, who worked as the office manager for several months in 1991 and 1992, said that Mr. Meier had asked her to work at his apartment, where he gave her a glass of wine and sat beside her on the sofa. “All of a sudden, I was thrust back and hit my head on a table,” Ms. Delgado said. “This man was on top of me, his tongue was down my throat, and he put my hand on his penis.”
The next day at the office, Ms. Delgado told the bookkeeper, Francina Foskey, who she said responded, “Oh, God, you, too?,” and then proceeded to spin through a Rolodex, pointing to the names of women who had complained to her about Meier’s sexual overtures. “She said, ‘Her, her, her, her,’ and as she’s turning them, we’re counting,” Ms. Delgado said. (Ms. Foskey died in 1997.)
Ms. Delgado said she got up the courage to hire a lawyer and settled with the firm under a nondisclosure agreement. Mr. Meier’s two other partners at the time were Robert Gatje and Thomas Phifer.
Mr. Gatje, interviewed a short time before his death, said that he wound up suing the firm himself but would not say for what because he was bound by a nondisclosure agreement. Asked about the allegations of sexual harassment, Mr. Gatje said: “That was 25 years ago. Things were a lot different back then.”
Mr. Phifer said that he never received a complaint of sexual harassment but that he had his own problems with Mr. Meier.
“What did happen is an enormous amount of verbal abuse, which I encountered myself, as did the rest of the office,” he said. “It’s the reason I left.”
Indeed, the conduct employees objected to extended beyond sexual advances. Former workers said that Mr. Meier — a winner of the Pritzker Prize, architecture’s top award, and the designer of notable buildings like the Getty Center in Los Angeles — ruled like a despot. They said he was loath to bring on partners, publicly berated even senior employees, and moved through the office as a brooding, bullying presence who inspired fear and deference.
Adam Eli Clem, who worked as an assistant archivist from 1994 to 1996, said Mr. Meier’s “toxic” behavior prompted “a kind of underground in the office that functioned to warn people about what they could expect.”
This was particularly true for women, who knew to wait for one another at the end of the day to avoid leaving a female colleague alone with Mr. Meier. Despite such efforts, some women said they were nevertheless asked by Mr. Meier to work at his apartment.
One was Ms. Nathanson, Mr. Meier’s personal assistant in 1995, who said he put his hands on her shoulders while showing her a book of vintage erotica.
“I felt trapped in my chair,” she said. “I felt my heart beating faster and faster and faster. I closed the book and pushed it away. I continued to work, but it was difficult to work.”
When she got her coat to leave, “he came up behind me, put his hands over my head on the wall and pressed his body into me with an erection,” Ms. Nathanson said. “The elevator came, I got in and left. I collapsed in the lobby in a chair and started to cry.”
Despite what appeared to her to be a general knowledge at the firm about Mr. Meier’s advances, Ms. Nathanson said, nothing changed.
“People would hold you in your arms and weep with you, but they wouldn’t talk to the boss,” she said. “They did not want to lose their jobs.”
Just three weeks later, Ms. Nathanson said, she lost her own job, in what Mr. Meier described to her as a “restructuring.”
One former partner, Gunter R. Standke, who worked there for 12 years until the early 1990s, said he had been aware that Mr. Meier was attracted to young women and that Mr. Meier would sometimes approach them at their desks in the evening and ask them to leave with him. But Mr. Standke said that none of the women had ever complained to him and that he was too busy to investigate what might be happening after hours.
“I had all the European projects,” he said. “I had no time to watch what Mr. Meier was doing.”
The firm, in its statement, said its renown stemmed not only from “brilliant architectural design and execution” but also “an environment that respects a diverse, motivated staff.” It said that the average tenure of its employees — nearly 50 percent of whom are women — is 13 years, “a testament to the positive workplace.”
While most of the women interviewed said they did not tell company officials what had happened to them, they did tell co-workers.
Liz Lee, who worked as the communications coordinator from 2002 to 2004, said she was once called to Mr. Meier’s apartment, ostensibly to inventory his art collection.
When she walked in the door, Ms. Lee said, Mr. Meier was naked. “I did not feel like I could just leave,” she said. He later put his hand on her buttocks, she said, while showing her his collages.
When Ms. Lee told colleagues, she said, they were not surprised. “They said, ‘Richard is an abusive person,’” she said, “‘but he’s the boss.’”
Ms. Bruckner said that she, too, told other women at the firm about what had happened to her at the copy machine.
“It turned out that everybody had a story,’” she said. “They all said, ‘Management doesn’t want to hear about it, and the best thing is to just move on.’”
“The garden becomes the new center of the campus,” Mr. Wardropper said in a recent interview at the museum. “It’s a beautiful garden — always was. Now we’re going to make the most of it.”
The Frick ended the last design process feeling battered by — and somewhat bitter about — critics who raised concerns about protecting the museum’s intimate scale and preserving the garden.
“Gardens are works of art,” Robert A.M. Stern, the dean of the Yale School of Architecture, said in an interview at the time. “This one is in perfect condition by Russell Page, one of the pre-eminent garden designers of the 20th century, and it should be respected as such. It’s as important as a tapestry or even a painting, and I think the museum is obliged to recognize its importance.”
Had the museum been able to build its addition in the garden, Mr. Wardropper said last week, the Frick would have gained “a proper loading dock” and “we wouldn’t have to close” for an estimated two years during construction. (The museum is talking to other institutions about continuing its activities in borrowed spaces during that hiatus.)
But he said he doesn’t feel as if the museum is settling for less. Instead, he said, the Frick has had to be more resourceful in repurposing 60,000 square feet of existing space and surgically adding 27,000 square feet, in part by building in the rear yard of the museum’s art reference library on East 71st Street.
“We’re able to achieve everything we need,” Mr. Wardropper said. “I think we’ve come up with a more elegant plan and a more rational one.”
Construction, which is expected to cost $160 million, is to begin in 2020 and take about two years to complete.
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Mr. Wardropper said he still firmly believes in the reasons behind the effort: to increase exhibition space and to improve circulation, amenities, infrastructure and wheelchair accessibility — trying to meet the needs of modern audiences while honoring the building’s jewel-box quality.
The museum’s collection of about 1,400 paintings, sculptures, works on paper and decorative arts — including works by Rembrandt, Goya, Vermeer and Renoir — “has more than doubled since the Frick opened in 1935,” Mr. Wardropper said. “We haven’t added more than 700 square feet in 80 years.”
For the first time in its history, the Frick family’s private living quarters on the second floor will be open to the public, helping to create 30 percent more exhibition space — including a permanent gallery for the new Scher Collection of portrait medals — and highlighting the experience of seeing art in an elegant home.
“The Frick has always been one of my favorite museums because you get up close to the art and you can respond to the domestic spaces in your own way,” Ms. Selldorf said. “You’ll be able to come to the museum and do the exact same thing you do today, except that you’ll be able to go up the stairs and see these rooms.”
The new design seems less likely to prompt outrage, given that the garden will be preserved, the new second level will raise the height of the lobby by less than five feet, and the museum is adding just two more floors above the mansion’s music room. Moreover, both of these additions will be set back from the street.
“You will only see it if you’re all the way back at the corner,” Ms. Selldorf said. “The closer you get, the less you see of it.”
The building addition behind the library will be the same height as the library: seven stories.
The renovation’s aesthetic will also be understated and honor the original building’s aesthetic, using materials like Indiana limestone. “You want it to be part of the existing volume, but have its own identity,” Ms. Selldorf said. “It’s not apologetic, but at the same time it’s not about style.”
The renovation will open the reception area, which currently becomes congested, by removing the existing circular stair to the lower level and relocating the gift shop to the second floor. A new staircase will lead down to the new coat check, bathrooms and auditorium. (The current 147-seat music room is acoustically challenged and so small that the museum must constantly turn people away.)
The newly configured underground spaces will eliminate the low-ceilinged galleries that could not accommodate certain works. The current show of life-size portraits by the Spanish master Francisco de Zurbarán, for example, had to be displayed on the main floor, displacing a portion of the permanent collection.
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The Frick will also get its first dedicated space for the 100 school groups that visit every year. (They will enter the new education center through the library’s 71st Street entrance.)
Mr. Wardropper said the Frick’s $30 million operating budget is expected to increase by $1 million or $2 million after the renovation, and its $22 admission fee is likely to go up by an undetermined amount.
Given its three previous attempts to expand in recent years — in 2001, 2005 and 2008 — the Frick is hoping to get it right this time.
“This is the one,” Mr. Wardropper said.
Over the next few months, the Frick plans to meet with some 75 community organizations and others to present the project. Museum officials have already had initial informal discussions with the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, which has to approve the project since the Frick is in a landmark mansion, designed by Carrère and Hastings for the industrialist Henry Clay Frick.
Three former members of that commission opposed the previous plan, along with a coalition, Unite to Save the Frick, that included architects and designers. Facing what the museum called “protracted legal battles” in pushing its plan forward, the Frick decided to go back to the drawing board.
With this iteration, Mr. Wardropper said he expects some controversy, and he is steeling himself for another round.
“Are people going to have objections? Sure; it’s New York,” he said. “But I believe this is necessary for the Frick, and I’m willing to go up on the barricades one last time to make it happen.”
Correction: April 4, 2018
An earlier version of this article misspelled the surname of a garden designer. She is Lynden B. Miller, not Millen.
Opened in 1928, the building was envisioned as part of an expansive, more dramatic complex, with two towers and one large tower in the middle. The stock market crash brought an end to those ambitious plans.
My Pure Detroit tour of the Fisher Building started in the barrel-vaulted arcade, with Mr. Hooper giving visitors an excellent sense of what the building was like when it opened. He explained how the adjoining garage would service cars when customers were running errands inside the building. Underground tunnels connected the Fisher Building to the neighboring Albert Kahn and Cadillac Place buildings.
The building defies the conventional wisdom that office spaces cannot be inspiring. This was evident from the third-floor overlook of the Fisher arcade, which gave us a view of the frescoes and mosaics that line the ceilings, with images of outstretched eagles that represented American power.
“After four years, I still genuinely enjoy giving tours,” Mr. Hooper said. “A lot of the people who come are first-timers or people who haven’t been in decades, and a big part of the experience is surprising people or changing their minds about architecture that’s in Detroit.”
Across the street, the Albert Kahn Building, a limestone 1931 Art Deco structure, stands somewhat imposingly even though it has only 10 stories. The lower floors of the building formerly housed a Saks Fifth Avenue store that operated for 40 years. Since 1931, the building has housed the offices of Albert Kahn Associates, but the firm’s offices are moving to renovated space in the Fisher Building later this year. Apartments are expected to replace the old office space.
On the tour of the Fisher Building, visitors can see the rooftop of the neighboring Cadillac Place, the former world headquarters of General Motors. With almost 1.4 million square feet of space, it goes without saying that the building is massive. Kahn built a wide, two-story base with four, separate, 15-story buildings, which erased the fortresslike quality that many office buildings possess and allowed for sunlight from different angles.
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Cadillac Place is now occupied by offices for the state of Michigan, but the first floor is open to the public. Italian marble covers many of the walls; the floors are Tennessee marble. An elaborate globe chandelier is a reminder of the building’s opulent past.
Across from Cadillac Place is the A. Alfred Taubman Center for Design Education, best known as the Argonaut Building. The red-brown brick building was the location of the General Motors Research Laboratory from 1936 to 1956. The Argonaut is a private facility, so I wasn’t able to get a sense of the interior, but this is one of Kahn’s more expressive buildings: it has beautiful arches with striped banding patterns. The patterns, at the top of the building, are virtually the same as those at the Albert, a downtown apartment building that Kahn designed.
A few blocks south, the Maccabees Building was designed in the Art Deco and Romanesque style, with broad windows and a recessed barrel vault arch on the ground floor and arched windows with spandrel panels on some of the upper floors. The 1927 building, built for the fraternal organization Knights of the Maccabees, has a limestone exterior and is owned by Wayne State University. Although it is a university building with academic programs, visitors can still see the lobby and its ceiling with intricate patterned mosaic tiles.
In the nearby Brush Park neighborhood is the Albert Kahn House, where the architect lived from 1906 to 1942, at the corner of Mack and John R. Street. Now the headquarters of the Detroit Urban League, the home embodies much of the charm of Tudor designs, with a blend of brick and stucco.
The Detroit region was home to many of Kahn’s industrial laboratories, including the Highland Park Ford Plant, where the Model T was produced, along with the Packard Automotive Plant and the Ford River Rouge Plant in Dearborn. Unfortunately, most of the Highland Park Plant has been razed. At the Ford River Rouge plant, virtually all of Kahn’s buildings have been torn down or significantly modified. But the Packard plant is still very much visible, with its durable brickwork and the pedestrian bridge over East Grand Boulevard evidence of past economic might.
“It was based on the Packard No. 10 building that Henry Ford hired Albert Kahn to build the Highland Park Plant in 1908,” Mr. Hodges said. “The building is interesting because it had no ornamentation whatsoever and was stripped down to the bare essentials to save his client money.”