City Hall rejects Kimball Art Center expansion design


City Hall on Thursday rejected the designs of the Kimball Art Center’s expansion proposal, determining they do not meet the municipal government’s strict Old Town guidelines.

The decision was outlined in a notice signed by Anya Grahn, who is the preservation planner at City Hall, and Planning Director Thomas Eddington. The notice does not provide details, but it indicates the Kimball Art Center may appeal the staff-level decision. The not-for-profit art center has a 10-day window from Thursday to appeal the decision to the Historic Preservation Board, City Hall’s Old Town panel.

Eddington said in an interview staffers found the design of the proposed expansion did not relate to the historic Kimball Art Center building "aesthetically, visually or historically." The proposal also was not compatible with the historic streetscape along Main Street, Eddington said. He said the expansion, as designed, would not be a contributing structure to the national historic district along Main Street.

"There was a lot of effort put into this building," Eddington acknowledged. "Everyone wants for the Kimball to be in this location."

Matt Mullin, the chairman of the board of directors of the Kimball Art Center, had not been briefed about the decision by early Thursday evening and declined to comment.

The Kimball Art Center selected a renowned Danish architectural firm, Bjarke Ingels Group, to draft the designs. The design rejected on Thursday was Bjarke Ingels Group’s second concept for the Kimball Art Center expansion. The first was widely criticized as a design that did not fit in Old Town. The Kimball Art Center did not pursue the first design as far into the process as it did the second one.

The second design drew a mix of praise and criticism from Parkites.


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