search articles: 

   from the issue of April 14, 2005

N.Y. firm to design quilt center


The future of quilt study and preservation continues to stitch its way into the fabric of UNL.

An artist's rendition shows what how the International Quilt Study Center, at 33rd and Holdrege streets, is proposed to look...
 An artist's rendition shows what how the International Quilt Study Center, at 33rd and Holdrege streets, is proposed to look. The $10.5 million project moved forward with the selection of Robert A.M. Stern Architects of New York on Wednesday. Illustration courtesy Robert A.M. Stern Architects.

During a special unveiling Wednesday, UNL announced that Robert A.M. Stern Architects of New York will design the world's first museum and international center for quilt study and display.

Internationally renowned architect Robert A.M. Stern revealed his firm's winning design for the museum and academic home for the International Quilt Study Center. The university hopes to break ground next spring on the privately funded, $10.5 million project on the northwest corner of 33rd and Holdrege streets with an opening planned for fall 2007.

"This is a definite plus for the university and for Lincoln," said Harvey Perlman, UNL chancellor. "The decision to hire an architect of international prominence reinforces the importance we place on the International Quilt Study Center. The opportunity to add a building by Robert A.M. Stern to our campus is exciting news for the campus, city and state."

At the design unveiling, Stern displayed a three-dimensional model and artist's rendering of the three-story, 30,000 square-foot building. Faced with limestone, the building features a bowed façade of glass panels "stitched together" to create a large-scale pattern.

Stern explained that the building is organized in three layers, like a quilt. The new facility will contain public galleries and meeting space on the outer layer, followed by a work area dedicated to research and climate controlled storage for the center's world-class collection.

"It has been a great honor and pleasure to prepare the design for the International Quilt Study Center," Stern said. "We worked hard to meet the functional requirements to create a building that will enhance the center's mission and advance the purposes of the university.

"Our design provides a dramatic setting for the study and display of quilts and a signature gateway to the university's East Campus."

A three-dimensional model of the International Quilt Study Center. Photo courtesy Robert A.M. Stern Architects.
A three-dimensional model of the International Quilt Study Center. Photo courtesy Robert A.M. Stern Architects.


Robert A.M. Stern Architects selected Alley Poyner Architecture of Omaha as associate architect on the project. The university will begin accepting construction bids this fall, with work starting in 2006.

The design competition was conducted under the auspices of the NU Foundation and made possible by a gift from the Robert and Ardis James Foundation of Chappaqua, N.Y. The foundation is also a major contributor to the building fund.

Terry Fairfield, NU Foundation president and chief executive officer, said gifts and commitments have been received for half of the $10.5 million project.

Perlman said the James Foundation's support has been an important catalyst in the fundraising effort.

"I'm grateful to the James family for their generous commitment to the project and for their foresight and perseverance in seeking a home for the center in keeping with the academic and scholarly impact of the collection and research center houses," Perlman said. "This is a first-class project."

The International Quilt Study Center was founded in 1997 when Ardis and Robert James donated their collection of nearly 950 quilts to the university. It has since become the most important quilt collection in existence and the largest public collection of its kind. It currently holds more than 1,700 quilts and four major collections last valued between $8 million and $9 million, said Patricia Crews, quilt center director.

The collection includes the Ardis and Robert James Collection of antique and contemporary studio art quilts, the Cargo Collection of African American quilts, and the Jonathan Holstein Collection, which includes the seminal Whitney Collection and an unparalleled group of Pennsylvania Amish quilts.

The collection also helped form a graduate program in textile history with an emphasis in quilt studies. It remains the only program of its kind.

The center is located on the second floor of the Home Economics building on East Campus. Space was converted for the collection in 1997, but no gallery or dedicated work areas were included. Other campus galleries are used to rotate exhibits, and classrooms are used for routine care and conservation of the collection.

In addition to providing improved exhibition space, the new building is expected to increase accessibility to the quilts for scholars, students and the general public. Currently, nearly 1,000 people visit the center each year. Another 10,000 have visited quilt exhibitions held elsewhere on campus. Crews projects that figure will double with the opening of the new facility.

A call for entries to design the facility drew interest from 117 architects from around the world.

After reviewing plans from 37 firms, three finalists were selected. The other two finalists were Kisho Kurokawa Architects & Associates of Tokyo and Studio Daniel Libeskind of New York City.

A committee composed of individuals from NU Central Administration, UNL facilities management, faculty and staff, and the foundation managed the search.

The dean of the School of Architecture and Planning at the University of New Mexico served as competition consultant.



N.Y. firm to design quilt center
Barnes brings Liszt Festival to Nebraska
Creativity, passion guide OTICA award winner
A Piece of University History
Convocations to recognize faculty, students
Fine & Performing Arts alumni weekend begins April 22
Funding provided for 11 'Programs of Excellence'