Surgery on the Royal Academy

Surgeons Precision


The British architect David Chipperfield has not exactly been a prophet in his own land, but the commission to intervene in the Royal Academy of Arts in London, which is the very heart of Britain’s art establishment, has helped give the lie to the cliché. His previous experience in new-build museums, including the Jumex in Mexico City and especially the exquisite, exemplary work he carried out in the Neues Museum of Berlin, may have been helpful in bringing him an assignment that required the precision and expertise of a surgeon, a job which involved penetrating into the very heart of the historic, 150-year-old building and firmly implanting there a new auditorium of wood and metal that engages in dialogue with the vaults of exposed brick serving as a foyer.

The inauguration of the outcome of this surgical operation has coincided with an exhibition on Chipperfield’s oeuvre, on view in the Basilica Palladiana of the Italian city of Vicenza, and with the announcement of the commission to transform Banco Santander’s old headquarters into a new museum of art for the northern Spanish coastal capital.

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