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You asked, we answered: Who has to OK Albright-Knox expansion plans?

A year after the Albright-Knox unveiled its original, controversial expansion plans to change Gordon Bunshaft's 1962 expansion, the gallery this week unveiled a new design that would preserve the Bunshaft building.

Shohei Shigematsu's new design was approved by the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy, which oversees the gallery. It will feature a new glass building and bridge that will connect to E.B. Green's 1905 building.

The estimated $155 million expansion will increase exhibition space to 48,000 square feet.

Reporter Mark Sommer answers reader questions about the new design:

From John Gnann: This looks great. Now does it comply with the Green Code? Who else has to approve the design?

Sommer: I spoke with Maria Scully-Morreale, Albright-Knox's communications director, to get the gallery's viewpoint. The new design appears to be in compliance with the Green Code. The plan will need to go at least before the Buffalo Preservation Board and the Buffalo Planning Board.

From John Michalski: I recall after visiting art museums in various cities in the U.S., Europe and Asia, hearing that certain masterpieces are damaged by sunlight and certain types of artificial light, dependent upon the type of materials used in the art work. Would this addition be for certain sculptures? A building in which you can see into also means light goes in as well. From the sketch provided the new addition obscures the view of the original building from Elmwood. Why can't the new addition be moved back so as to be "in line" with the original building and the Bunshaft building?

Sommer: While the translucent surface has not been decided on yet, curators are keenly aware of this issue and would never display artwork if sunlight posed a threat. You should know there is art that sun poses no problem for or is even intended to be seen with sunlight.

To your second question, the new building won't obscure the west façade of the 1905 building or the sightlines to and from Elmwood.

For your third question, it was felt there was not enough space on the north side for a new structure.

From Lawrence River: How easy is a glass building going to be to heat in the winter and cool in the summer? Lot of energy and money.

Sommer: The new building will have more efficient mechanical systems and vapor barriers than the current building does.

From Lisa Feldman: I'm not a fan of the site location. Wouldn't the other side of the gallery, behind the auditorium, be more suitable? Its view of the lake and park, rather than Elmwood and the Scajaquada, would be more pleasant.

Sommer: The Albright-Knox didn't want to take away more parkland behind the auditorium, something the public indicated in the past it didn't want to see. Locating the new building on top of what is now a surface parking was seen as mitigating the impact on both green space and the Olmsted park.

Cautious optimism greets Albright-Knox's latest plan for expansion

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