The Babcock Wing: Ten Years of Enriching Reynolda in Design and Function

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The Babcock Wing: Ten Years of Enriching Reynolda in Design and Function

By Phil Archer, Director of Public Programs | @LearnReynolda
Join us at the Museum on Wednesday, May 6, 2015 at 2:30 p.m. for the Object of the Month Talk featuring the Babcock Wing 

With roughly 1,500 programs completed and more than 25,000 works of art created by children and adults within its walls, the Babcock Wing has had an incredibly positive effect on Reynolda House in the 10 years since its opening. The wing allows for more varied programming and has transformed Reynolda House from a traditional house museum into a vigorous hybrid of historic estate and art gallery, with exhibitions of photography, Modernism, Abstract Expressionism, still life, genre painting, African American art, and single-artist retrospectives (like Romare Bearden, Diane Arbus, John Sloan, and Grandma Moses). 

Careful planning and consultation with historians of architecture and landscape design ensured that the Babcock Wing addition would relate sympathetically to Reynolda House, preserving the traditional facade of the house by nestling the 32,000 foot addition into the slope so that it is barely visible from the entry drive.

It also consciously honor the visionary estate plan of Katharine Reynolds and her architects. The study wing of the 1917 house runs perfectly east-west, with views to Lake Katharine to the north. The Babcock Wing extends perpendicularly from the study wing, perfectly north-south. It therefore aligns with the two primary features of the original landscape, the sixteen acre Lake Katharine (now a diverse wetlands) and the front lawn, which extends 7/10ths of a mile to the South.

Further, the house is aligned with the unified design character and features of the estate. In A World of Her Own Making: Katharine Smith Reynolds and the Landscape of Reynolda (available for purchase in the Museum Store), Catherine Howett writes of the unique Reynolda aesthetic: “emphasizing formal simplicity, the repetition of elements, and traditional building types (not necessarily drawn from Piedmont examples), integrated the small community of homes with buildings serving a score of other functions – barns, stables, sheds, shops, cribs, offices, power plant, and a dairy which, in spite of being one of the most technologically sophisticated in the entire country, appeared reassuringly familiar from the outside” (Howett, 156-57).

The design of the Babcock Wing (by Beyer Blinder Belle of New York City) reflects this Reynolda tradition, valuing continuity over flash-- with its white stucco walls, gray-green tile roof, rusticated stone foundations, squat Tuscan columns and echoing rooflines. The wing is filled with natural light, reminiscent of the bungalow with its encircling porches and patios. It makes an eminently companionable addition to the ultimate East Coast bungalow.


nice blog, Phil.  I started my time as a volunteer at Reynolda In 2005.  I was unsure how happy I would be in only in an historical space.  Had considered SECA for it's white, light filled gallery aNd historical home.   The Babcock Gallery opening was just what I needed to feel at home.  The best architecturly of both.  Planning to find joy as a volunteer for ten more years.

I am trying to find Winefred Babcock. Can you help?

Hello Mr. Land, 
We'll contact you to learn more about your inquiry. Thanks for commenting!
Sincerely,Sarah Smith

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