Architects appointed for £35.5m National Portrait Gallery transformation

The National Portrait Gallery has appointed Jamie Fobert Architects and Purcell to deliver its £35.5m transformation following an international selection process.

The London-based practice will deliver the Gallery’s biggest ever development since the building opened in 1896. This includes creating around twenty per cent more public and gallery spaces, all of which will be refurbished and rehung for the first time, enhancing its entrance and creating a state-of-the-art Learning Centre.

Jamie Fobert Architects’ recent and forthcoming projects include the critically acclaimed extension to Tate St Ives in Cornwall, a new gallery building for Charleston in East Sussex and an extension and reconfiguration of Kettle’s Yard House and Gallery in Cambridge.

Building work on the project, Inspiring People: Transforming our National Portrait Gallery, is scheduled to start in 2020. For the first time in the Gallery’s history there will be a comprehensive re-display of the Collection across all the galleries accompanied by the Gallery’s most extensive programme of activities nationwide.

The Gallery has already embarked on its fundraising and has now secured £21.2m, 60% of its £35.5m fundraising target. With the Heritage Lottery Fund’s support of £9.4m, which includes an initial development grant of £900,000, the Gallery aims to reach its target of £35.5m by March 2019 in order to complete the project by 2022.

Dr Nicholas Cullinan, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, London, says: “We are delighted to have chosen Jamie Fobert Architects to work with us on transforming the National Portrait Gallery. We were impressed by Jamie’s evident love of the Gallery, its Collection and building, and the clear vision he had for how to make the most of these for our visitors, as well as his affinity with art and artists. Following his much lauded work at Tate St Ives, and forthcoming projects such as Kettle’s Yard in Cambridge, this is the perfect time to work with Jamie as we take the National Portrait Gallery into one of the most exciting chapters in its history.”

David Ross, Chair of Trustees, National Portrait Gallery, London, says: “On behalf of all our Trustees, we are delighted to endorse the decision to appoint Jamie Fobert Architects for our Inspiring People project. Jamie and his team have already shown an insightful and creative understanding of what we would like to achieve going forward and I am confident that they will be excellent partners to work with at this significant moment for the National Portrait Gallery.”

Jamie Fobert, of Jamie Fobert Architects, says: “Housed in a handsome Victorian building, The National Portrait Gallery plays a unique and important role in the cultural life of our nation, charting our past and engaging with the present. I am thrilled to be taking on this project, which will unify the collection and enhance the Gallery’s presence in the city. I am looking forward to working together with the National Portrait Gallery’s dynamic team and our partners Purcell, Max Fordham and Price & Myers.”

Established in 1996, Jamie Fobert Architects’ role in arts projects has continuously evolved. Early projects included domestic spaces for artists including Antony Gormley and Christopher Le Brun, which led to exhibition design such as The Upright Figure in Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall and Out of the Ordinary at the V&A. They later designed galleries for clients including Frieze Art Fair, Pace and The Garage Museum of Contemporary Culture in Moscow and most recently have completed a major extension to Tate St Ives.

Residential projects have ranged from urban sites in central London to a farmhouse in rural Ireland and coastal residences in the South of France and Trinidad. They won the RIBA House of the Year Award in 2003 for Anderson House and in 2016 the BD Individual House Architect of the Year Award. Their retail work has included international design concepts for Givenchy and Versace and extensive work for Selfridges. They designed a new stone floor for the historic Burlington Arcade and interiors and bespoke furnishings for a new department store inside the sixteenth-century Fondaco dei Tedeschi, by the Rialto Bridge in Venice.

Client: National Portrait Gallery, London
Project budget: £35.5m
Lead architects: Jamie Fobert Architects
Heritage Architect: Purcell
M&E Engineer: Max Fordham
Structural Engineer: Price & Myers

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