LAKE PLACID — If it could talk, it might speak with guttural inflection. If a word could catch an abstract edge of it, "tousled" might work.But it would define the 21st century in Lake Placid: a composition of grass, wood, glass, stone and light.The architectural design of the proposed Adirondack Museum in Lake Placid is leaving some spellbound.A sense of order inside the 8,280-square-foot building leans on two terraced stories with a grass-covered, energy-efficient roof.There is function in the form.A wooden spire reminiscent of tall trees tossed against each other in a wind reaches up through both floors from origins in the sidewalk.Hidden inside its wooden shaft is an elevator for access to all levels of the museum.The two floors stepped into the hillside create terraces for exhibit space.Architects David Childs, consulting design partner, and Roger Duffy, design partner, both with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, LLP, of New York, presented their illustrations Wednesday night to a curious press corps and later to the North Elba/Lake Placid Joint Review Board.Childs work at SOM is world-renowned; he recently designed the Freedom Tower to replace office space destroyed in Manhattan on Sept. 11. It will be the world's tallest building.Childs described the Lake Placid project as "an opportunity to make a punctuation mark."The idea was to make the structure "understand its site and fit into its context."The building will replace a rough-cut square stone Church of the Nazarene occupying a central spot on Main Street.But there was no way to match the menagerie of "neo-alpine" building facades that occupy narrow slots along the sidewalk."We were quite intrigued by the ancientness of this place," Duffy said, hinting of insight he gained from wilderness and Adirondack rock domes 2 billion years old."It's how you look into the forest and have a certain feeling — a bit like wordless thought," Duffy said.
At the same time the architects wanted to establish a point of view literally a tower to climb that overlooked the wall of Lake Placid's Main Street."We hoped to create a public space that will allow people to climb above the tunnel of Main Street," Childs said, "using the greatest exhibit of all, which is the Adirondacks."Once inside the museum, the glass and tousled wooden beams let light and sky in sun filtered through a forest.The architects intended the fractured lines to create a space "lacy, see-through, more like a birch forest."A section of the bottom of the building is wrapped in iron-free glass. And the wooden spire will be lit from the base of each story.Adirondack Museum director Caroline Welsh said they are thrilled with the proposed design."This is an opportunity to bring in a new architectural vocabulary at a time when Lake Placid is looking forward to continuing to attract the world.""We think it is a wonderful building," said John Fritzinger, chairman of the Adirondack Museum Board of Directors.Initial reactions included words like "cool" and "thoughtful."Art Lussi, who saw the design for the first time Wednesday, said it's spectacular."I have to say I'm just spellbound."But along with the new marker on Main Street, the Adirondack Museum would bring historic context to the marketplace with various seasonal exhibits.The Adirondack Museum intends to keep the Lake Placid branch open year-round, Welsh said, requiring about 12 employees.Performance and exhibit space on the second floor would be multi-use including programs for children.The building design and construction are projected to cost near $6 million, Fritzinger said.
If approved by the town and village zoning board, construction would begin Oct. 20, 2007 with a completion date of Jan. 4, 2009.