In the fall of 2019, the Trustees of the New Bedford Art Museum/ Art Works! selected Machado Silvetti from an open RFQ process to assess the feasibility of future renovation and expansion to the Anthony S. Catojo Jr, Building at 608 Pleasant St. New Bedford, MA—the current home of the New Bedford Art Museum/ Artworks!. The study undertook analysis of the existing physical, spatial and programmatic conditions of the museum as a means to realize its ambitions for an expanded programmatic offering and architectural vision for the museum and the city. The Anthony S. Catojo Jr. Building is a stately, neoclassical former bank building constructed around 1917, which currently serves hybrid roles as art making classrooms and exhibition studios for the Museum, as well as municipal offices for the city of New Bedford.
With the need for expanding its exhibition capacity, public visibility, storage, staff and support spaces and educational offerings, the study tested a number of programmatic compositions and architectural design scenarios to address the multiple needs of the museum within the existing shell of the historic building. The study addressed systematic technical challenges currently facing the building including ADA accessibility, egress, climate control, lighting, restroom capacity, loading and storage. The study analyzed and developed design alternatives for the museum’s renovation and expansion in keeping with both the long range vision of the Museum and its trustees while simultaneously placing the work within the broader urban frameworks of the city’s cultural & historic districts and initiatives. The design for the New Bedford Art Museum greatly expands the capacity for the museum to play a more significant role as a cultural institution within the city by increasing its visibility, collections capacity, and educational programing, providing a new home for the cities robust historic art collection.