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By HARRY SALTZGAVER | Grunion Gazette, July 10, 2021
Exterior walls are complete at the construction site for the Kleefeld Contemporary Art Museum, on the Cal State Long Beach campus, and the emphasis is moving inside — where state-of-the-art spaces are being created.
Construction began in June 2020 on the $24 million project, which will expand the museum by 4,000 square feet, more than doubling the exhibit space. The project also includes an education program center, archives, and — perhaps most significant — enough secure storage to hold all of the museum’s collections. The $24 million price tag includes renovating the Horn Center, a separate-but-concurrent project.
To accommodate the expansion, said museum spokeswoman Amanda Fruta, the Kleefeld took part of CSULB’s track-and-field area.
“It may be the first time in history that a university athletics program has lost real estate to an art museum,” new Kleefeld Director Paul Baker Prindle said in a written statement.
While state financing is paying for the Horn Center renovation, the funding for the museum construction comes from private donations, Fruta said. The lead gift was from artist Carolyn Campagna Kleefeld. In addition to adding her name to the museum, there will be a separate Kleefeld Gallery inside, with a barrel ceiling, hardwood flooring, and more. Fruta declined to say how much the gift was but noted there were other donations as well.
Construction of the Kleefeld Contemporary Art Museum on the CSULB campus is on schedule to open in February 2022. The media was given a sneak peek to the renovation of the existing building and the expansion building in Long Beach on Thursday, July 8, 2021. (Photo by Brittany Murray, Press-Telegram/SCNG)
Pfeiffer Partners Architects took a cue from the nearby Walter Pyramid, using three sharp triangle forms for the expansion’s roof. In a nod to original architect Ed Killingsworth, the expansion maintained the mid-century modern entry façade but added a new, angular vestibule that reaches out — to bring visitors in.
Sustainability and inclusion, Fruta said, were guiding factors in the design. The building will be upgraded to LEED Silver standards and solar panels will help electrify the facility. Prindle and his staff already are working on plans for quiet hours, loud hours, and more to make visitors feel welcome, she added.
“The new LEED Silver Certified Museum is being built to serve the campus as a living laboratory for cultural exploration and a showcase of the campus’s aggressive sustainability commitment,” said CSULB Director of Design and Building Services Mark Zakhour. “Intentional selection of native plants in landscaping, use of sustainable and local building materials, integration of solar panels, energy-efficient design, green cleaning and maintenance plans, and investment in long-lasting learning technologies were key aspects of the build that contributed to the sustainability rating.”
The interior, meanwhile, has been gutted and reconfigured to provide more galleries, workspaces, and the storage vault, which will bring CSULB-owned works in from off-site storage areas all around the South Bay. A new HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) system will allow for climate-controlled spaces to protect the art.
The education center will offer state-of-the-art equipment and material that everyone, from youngsters to adults, can use, Fruta said.
“We’ll return with our school field trips,” Fruta said, “where we serve about 1,500 (elementary school) students.
“And we want to make it (the museum) available for all groups who wish to use it,” she added.
Another welcoming component is the lobby, called the Connie Glenn Court in honor of the museum’s founding director. It will have a check-in desk and a small museum store where CSULB College of the Arts alumni can sell sustainable art. The former museum had no lobby at all.
Clark Construction is aiming to turn the buildings over to the university in October, Fruta said. A public opening is scheduled for Feb. 12.