SLAM Ducks

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David Chipperfield Architects
St. Louis Art Museum, proposed addition, David Chipperfield, 2007/photo: David Chipperfield Architects

The St. Louis Art Museum has just announced that it’s putting its expansion plans on hold.  It was just last fall that SLAM unveiled a design for an addition to the museum’s original Beaux Art building by Cass Gilbert, architect of the Woolworth’s Building in New York and the U.S. Supreme Court.   The subdued glass and concrete addition would be by the London-based architect David Chipperfield.   (“Modest” and “unostentatious” is how its described on the website of Chipperfield’s firm — he’s famously skeptical about the “wow” factor in a lot of contemporary architecture.) The museum had expected to break ground on the project late this year and complete it in 2011.

But a few hours ago SLAM issued a press release saying its Board of Commissioners had decided to put off the project until financial markets “stabilize”.  The museum says it already had commitments of $120 million towards the project’s initial $125 million capital campaign goal.   But commitments aren’t cash on hand, and these days, even commitments may not feel committed enough.