Design Review Panel OKs Butler Museum Addition

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — The Butler Institute of American Art could break ground this spring for an addition.

Construction of the 30- by 46-foot multilevel expansion would take six to eight months, said C. Robert Buchanan, architect for the project, at Tuesday’s meeting of the city design review committee.

“It’s a great addition to a great museum,” said committee member Hunter Morrison. The committee approved the plan.

The expansion project awaits approval by the Butler board of directors. That could come as early as Friday when the board next meets.

The addition would be located at the front of the current Beecher Center addition on the south side of the museum. It would have a glass front wall, similar to the existing structure, facing Wick Avenue. Artwork behind the wall would be illuminated and visible to passersby and motorists, Buchanan said.

Most of the expansion will be used to house the ever-expanding Butler collection. The museum recently acquired a vast collection of kinetic art pieces, some of which are very large, and needs the space, according to Louis Zona, executive director.

The addition will not interfere with the existing walkway in front of it that connects the museum’s main entrance to the adjacent Youngstown State University campus.

“Many things are happening on Wick Avenue,” Morrison said, city the $25 million renovation and expansion of the nearby Public Library of Youngstown main branch.

The design review committee approved three other projects Tuesday. They include the restoration of a three-story building at 802 Elm St., just north of the YSU campus that once house Dorian Books store.

The first floor would be used for retail, with offices and possibly apartments on the upper floors, according to Stephen Berry, architect for the project.

Portable metal fencing would be used to enclose patio seating in front of two neighboring bars on the new Phelps Street Walkway, downtown.

The fencings would be in front of Suzie’s Dogs and Drafts and Rhine Haus Bier Hall, and would seat up to 36 people around tables. The barrier would not be permanent, said Christian Rinehart, owner of the bars. It would be removed during winter and for large public events on the walkway.

The fencing is made of heavy steel and will not quickly break – a problem common to other downtown patios.

“This is a recommendation to follow for [all] future patio fencing downtown,” said committee member Nick Chretien.

Suzie’s and Rhine Haus will both reopen this weekend for “a test run,” said Rinehart, and then will reopen for good nest week. The nightspots had been closed since March because of the pandemic.

The final project approved is placement of a statue titled “Homeless Jesus” on a grassy area at the intersection of Wood and Phelps streets, in front of the Diocese of Youngstown complex.

The statue, created by sculptor Timothy P. Shmalz of Canada, is part of a series of seven he created. Two others in the series are already in place the downtown area: one in front of First Presbyterian Church, the other in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church.

Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.