The transformed Baker Museum, which re-opens this month, is the “first step in a much larger vision” at Artis—Naples, one that interweaves the campus’ layers of culture together for the first time while connecting with the coastal environment, says architect Michael Manfredi. “It’s a fantastic opportunity to bring these together, the performing arts and visual arts, and the inside and outside.”
Based in New York City, Weiss/Manfredi Architecture/Landscape/Urbanism designed the $26.5-million renovation and expansion of the museum and envisioned the $150-million master plan for the Kimberly K. Querrey and Louis A. Simpson Cultural Campus. The husband-and-wife team of Manfredi and Marion Weiss has earned a revered reputation for similar projects, including the Brooklyn Botanic Garden Visitor Center and Seattle Art Museum Olympic Sculpture Park. Among them, Artis—Naples stands apart, Manfredi says. “There are few globally that bring world-class performing and visual arts together in an interesting way, the way Artis—Naples does,” he notes, calling the campus a “magic cauldron of the arts.”
Copious windows and terraces highlight views outside and invite natural light in. Enhanced performance, learning, and event spaces provide flexibility for a range of disciplines and uses. “Tying all of the arts together in this first phase was central to the ethos of this project,” Manfredi says. “We want to see them as companions.”
The Baker Museum was built in 2000 and sustained damage during Hurricane Irma in 2017, when the exterior stucco cracked and leaked. The new exterior is clad in a pleated metal panel and Jura limestone system, designed to equalize during shifts in atmospheric pressure. The creamy-beige limestone originated in ancient oceans and is composed of sea fossils—the natural hue and texture a reflection of Naples’ coastline. The Figge Conservatory made way for a courtyard and expanded Norris Garden that draws patrons toward the museum’s exterior staircase and performance halls. Contiguous galleries are complemented with breakout galleries on the third floor. The rooftop features a bar, outdoor sculptures, and vistas of the shoreline and setting sun.
Opened in 1989, the campus became a fragmented collection of buildings. Manfredi and Weiss use adjectives such as graceful, undulating, curving, and gentle to describe the architecture and landscape today, and as the master plan unfolds over the next 25 years. “These wandering lines and open portals are a forward-looking expression of the campus identity,” Weiss says. “The curves lead you to the next discovery, and this leads you to the elements that are always changing.”