Asian Art Museum Expansion and Renovation

Seattle, Washington

Project Size:

New area: 13,905 square feetRenovated area: 50,345 square feet

Project Status:

Completed 2019


Arts + Culture, Civic Design, Interior Design


LMN Architects Enhances Art Deco Beauty of the Seattle Asian Art Museum

Interior Design, 02/25/2020

The Renovated Seattle Asian Art Museum Mixes Art Deco and Contemporary Design

NUVO, 02/10/2020

The Seattle Asian Art Museum Reopens with a Vital New Expansion

GRAY Magazine, 02/07/2020

The Seattle Asian Art Museum Reopens After $56 Million Renovation

ARTFORUM, 02/07/2020

Art déco Seattle Asian Art Museum gagne une extension modern

Newstrotteur, 02/07/2020

Seattle Asian Art Museum

ArchDaily, 02/07/2020

Reapertura Del Museo de Arte Asiático de Seattle por LMN Architects

Metalocus, 02/07/2020

SAAM reestablishes its connection to Volunteer Park

Daily Journal of Commerce, 02/06/2020

Музей азиатского искусства в Сиэтле открылся после расширения и реконструкции

AD Russia, 02/05/2020

El museo de Arte Asiatico de Seattle: naturaleza, historia y arquitectura

AD España, 02/04/2020

LMN Architects Celebrates the Reopening of the Seattle Asian Art Museum

The Registry, 02/04/2020

Sneak peek: Seattle's Asian Art Museum unveils renovations ahead of reopening

Puget Sound Business Journal, 02/04/2020

LMN Architects Unveils Reimagined Seattle Asian Art Museum

Hypebeast, 02/04/2020

Seattle Asian Art Museum to Reopen After $56 Million Renovation

The New York Times, 02/03/2020

Seattle Asian Art Museum to reopen after LMN Architects revamp

CLADnews, 02/03/2020

Seattle's Asian Art Museum Completes a Major Restoration and Expansion

Architectural Digest, 02/03/2020

LMN Architects creates sensitive addition for Asian art museum in Seattle

DEZEEN, 02/03/2020

Seattle’s art deco Asian Art Museum gains a modern extension

Wallpaper, 02/03/2020

LMN Architects reveals newly renovated Seattle Asian Art Museum

The Architect’s Newspaper, 02/03/2020

Seattle Asian Art Museum's $56m expansion reframes the question: ‘What is Asian art?’

The Art Newspaper, 02/03/2020

Pacific Rim Calling: Seattle’s Asian Art Museum Gets a Revamp

Metropolis Magazine, 11/12/2019

Asian Art Museum's $54M Renovation/Expansion

The Registry, 04/26/2018

LMN Architects Begins Renovation on Seattle's Asian Art Museum

Bustler, 04/09/2018

LMN Architects Release Plans For Renovation And Expansion Of The Asian Art Museum In Seattle

World Architecture, 04/05/2018

Asian Art Museum in Seattle Breaks Ground on Renovation Designed by LMN Architects

Dexigner, 03/28/2018

Construction Begins on Seattle Asian Art Museum Expansion

Curbed Seattle, 03/14/2018

Renovation of the Seattle Asian Art Museum Begins

ARCHITECT, 03/13/2018

Seattle Art Museum's Asian Art Museum Reveals Plans for Renovation and Expansion

Art Daily, 09/15/2017

Selected Awards

2020 AIA

Northwest and Pacific Region Design Awards, Merit Award

2020 AIA

Seattle Chapter Honor Awards, Honorable Mention

2020 AN Best of Design Awards

Renovation, Editors' Picks

2020 Fast Company’s Innovation by Design Awards

Best Design North America, Honorable Mention

2020 Fast Company’s Innovation by Design Awards

Best Design Cities, Honorable Mention

2020 AL Design Awards

Outstanding Achievement, Exhibition Lighting and Installations

2020 ENR Northwest Regional Best Projects

Renovation/Restoration Award of Merit

2020 DJC Building of the Year

Top 10

A treasured historic building in a landmarked Olmstead designed city park, the Seattle Asian Art Museum’s expansion and renovation inaugurates a new era for one of the few museums in North America dedicated exclusively to Asian art. The project marks the first substantial renovation of the landmarked, Art Deco building since its construction in 1933. The expansion and renovation restored the historic structure, modernized the original galleries, and added a new gallery, education space, conservation lab, and community art gallery. The project preserves the building’s architectural legacy while enhancing the museum’s capacity to support its growing collections and fosters a more inclusive relationship with the Seattle community. 

The expansion and renovation focused on recapturing the essential character of the historic building and complementing it with a new, contemporary addition, compatible with the historic structure. The modern addition enhances the Fuller Garden Court, the historic building’s central hub, and provides access to galleries from multiple points. This is accomplished by the introduction of two new portals connected to a new Park Lobby, providing an additional access path through the new gallery. The historic entry, Fuller Garden Court, and the Park Lobby create a circulation spine with views of the park to the east and the west, rejuvenating the building’s connection to the park and the community.

Visual connection to the park setting and natural daylight from skylights and windows in the galleries and entry lobby were the cornerstones of the original building design. Over time, building additions eliminated many of the original perimeter windows and skylights were covered due to UV concerns, impacting the originally intended experience of the museum. The renovation restored the important quality of daylight and views by reintroducing overhead illumination in the octagonal galleries appropriate for the art and replacing clear glazing in the entry lobby. The new Park Lobby takes it a step further and maximizes the connection of the building to the historic park.

Built in 1933 during the Depression, the museum incorporated economical materials. Scagliola replaced stone and a unique application of engineered hardboard was used instead of wood flooring. Technical solutions to restore these materials retained the distinctive materials and features of the historic structure.  Replacement of the museum's original mechanical system and other building infrastructure introduced a level of environmental control not found in the original building, allowing the museum to host travelling exhibits and preserve the integrity of the collections.

The updated and expanded museum allows for the exhibition of art that has never been on view before and supports a significant recent focus on acquisitions of historic, modern, and contemporary Asian Pacific Islander and Southeast Asian art. The renovation and expansion create the opportunity for the museum to honor its mission, tell new stories about Asian art amid changing definitions of Asia in the 21st century, and increase the connection between Asian art and the multi-cultural community within the Pacific Northwest.