WCMA Architect Announcement

To the Williams Community,

I write, with pleasure, to announce that the college has chosen SO-IL architects to develop a conceptual design for the new Williams College Museum of Art building. SO-IL was recommended by the 12-member Architect Selection Committee after a rigorous and competitive process, and I was pleased to accept their recommendation on the merits. Once the design is complete, and contingent on approval by the Board of Trustees, the building project is scheduled to proceed in alignment with WCMA’s centennial year of 2026-27.

Selected from more than 37 national and international firms, SO-IL stood out among the four finalists for its deep engagement with and enthusiasm for the arts and education, which align beautifully with our museum’s teaching mission. Based in Brooklyn, N.Y., SO-IL was founded in 2008 by principals Florian Idenburg and Jing Liu. Their designs have earned attention for inspiring intellectual and social engagement. Projects have included the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art at the University of California, Davis, as well as an art campus for the nonprofit arts organization Amant in New York. The firm has been recognized with the MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program Award, the AIA Young Architects Award and, most recently, the American Academy of Arts and Letters’ Award in Architecture.

Building a new home for WCMA is a focal point of the college’s strategic plan. In SO-IL, Williams has found a partner committed to collaborating with students, connecting with the community and caring for our natural landscape. Our vision is for a museum space that is at once collaborative, inclusive and welcoming for all, with large gallery and teaching spaces to increase access to our collections. In parallel with the design work for the new building, there are plans for a detailed programming study of historic Lawrence Hall to explore complementarities with the new museum and understand its full potential as an arts and academic space.

I am grateful to committee chair Pamela Franks, Class of 1956 Director of the Williams College Museum of Art, and her colleagues for their hard work, expertise and insight. While the caliber and creativity of all the shortlisted candidates were impressive, SO-IL’s inventive and enthusiastic approach to our museum’s teaching mission stood out. We are confident we have made the best decision for Williams.

You can read more about the project in the announcement from WCMA or at www.williams.edu/museum-building-project.