Selldorf Architects selected for the National Gallery’s fast-track NG200 Project

New York-based architects understood Gallery’s ambitions and showed sensitivity to existing heritage buildings

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© Brigitte Lacombe

The National Gallery today (14 July 2021) announced that a team led by Selldorf Architects has been selected to work on a suite of capital projects to mark its Bicentenary, with an initial phase to be completed in 2024.

The open two-stage selection process sought to identify an outstanding multidisciplinary design team to work with the Trafalgar Square Gallery on a sensitive remodelling of the Sainsbury Wing and public realm, as well as a new Research Centre. The process was run by Malcolm Reading Consultants under the Competitive Procedure with Negotiation in accordance with UK procurement regulations.

In addition to the Executive Team and Trustees of the National Gallery, several independent panellists were appointed to the selection panel. These were: Edwin Heathcote, architecture critic and author; leading structural engineer Jane Wernick CBE FREng; and Ben Bolgar MVO RIBA RIAS, Senior Design Director of the Prince’s Foundation.

Following an open call launched in February 2021, the quality of the international architectural community’s response led the panel to expand the envisaged shortlist from five to six.

The five runner-up teams who took part in the process were led by (in alphabetical order): Asif Khan, Caruso St John Architects, David Chipperfield Architects, David Kohn Architects, and Witherford Watson Mann Architects.

The Selldorf Architects-led team will work with the National Gallery to complete the initial phase of works to its Trafalgar Square buildings to greatly improve the ‘welcome’ it provides to the millions of visitors it receives each year, as well as reshaping the Gallery for its third century and to serve new generations.

Based in New York, Selldorf Architects has considerable experience within the arts and culture sector across the UK, Europe, and the US. It counts among its current and previous clients: The Frick Collection, Luma Arles, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Neue Galerie New York, the Clark Art Institute, David Zwirner, Hauser & Wirth, Frieze Masters, and the Venice Art Biennale.

Selldorf Architects’ team for the Gallery also includes Purcell, Vogt Landscape, Arup, AEA Consulting, Pentagram, Kaizen and Kendrick Hobbs.

Over the coming months, the approach submitted by Selldorf Architects’ team will be refined into a comprehensive brief alongside the National Gallery team, and extensive engagement and liaison with external stakeholders will begin.

Underpinning the developing brief is the desire to create healthy, sustainable, and accessible spaces and an environment that is open and inclusive where visitors can feel welcome and reflect as they plan their visit to one of the world’s finest art collections. Following a year of unprecedented challenges due to the coronavirus pandemic, the National Gallery will build on its strength, inventiveness, and relevance to play a vital role in the nation’s recovery.

NG200 will celebrate 200 years since the National Gallery’s foundation in 1824 with a programme of inspirational exhibitions and outreach around the country and around the world, under the banner NG200. The National Gallery plans to engage the whole of the UK with the Gallery’s collection, fulfilling its role as a national institution at the heart of national life.

Director of the National Gallery, Dr Gabriele Finaldi said:

‘We are delighted to appoint Selldorf Architects as the design-team partner for NG200. Throughout the selection process, Selldorf Architects demonstrated a real understanding of our ambitions as well as sensitivity to the heritage of our existing buildings. However, the talent and tenacity demonstrated at all levels by each of the six shortlisted teams was remarkable. I would like to thank all those involved, particularly the judging panel who have guided us through the selection process.
‘Our Bicentenary in 2024 is a key moment in this creation of the new National Gallery. We will demonstrate the values we hold, and the value we create as we enter our third century with renewed and bold ambition, and perhaps most importantly – hope.
‘The capital projects form the first stage of our Bicentenary celebrations and are essential in building the foundations of the Gallery’s future. Working alongside Selldorf Architects, we will develop and deliver a detailed brief that will be the framework through which we consolidate our role as the nation’s gallery.
‘The next five years will be pivotal in fighting our way out of the crisis of Covid-19. We recognise the catastrophic impact this has had on so many, and particularly on arts and culture institutions’ visitor numbers. It will take time for these to return to 2019 levels, but there is hope on the horizon and arts and culture will be crucial in the healing of our country.
‘We plan to build on our strengths, respond to challenges and opportunities, and forge a pathway to the National Gallery of the future – for the nation and for the world.’

Annabelle Selldorf, founding Principal of Selldorf Architects, said:

‘It is an honour to be appointed to work alongside the National Gallery on its NG200 project. This is a significant opportunity for an iconic cultural institution to reflect on its ambitions for the future and drive forwards an innovative, bespoke brief that befits its many visitors. The National Gallery is home to one of the most exceptional collections of art in the world and has often led the way for other institutions globally.
‘Our team will work sensitively and thoughtfully with the National Gallery, guided by its vision for a Gallery of the future that is inspiring, sustainable, and truly inclusive.’

Search Director, Malcolm Reading, said:

‘We are extremely grateful for the work and commitment put in by the shortlisted teams who threw themselves wholeheartedly and with distinction into this demanding and creative challenge.
‘Ultimately though, the Selldorf Architects-led design team connected on a deep level with the architecture and public realm, showing an exemplary grasp of nuance.
‘This is a lovely moment for London and the Gallery, a chance to realise the potential within the estate that currently lies dormant. Warm congratulations, Annabelle! We know you’ll bring your sure touch to the project.’


The National Gallery is one of the greatest art galleries in the world. Founded by Parliament in 1824, the Gallery houses the nation’s collection of paintings in the Western European tradition from the late 13th to the early 20th century. The collection includes works by Bellini, Cézanne, Degas, Leonardo, Monet, Raphael, Rembrandt, Renoir, Rubens, Titian, Turner, Van Dyck, Van Gogh and Velázquez. The Gallery’s key objectives are to enhance the collection, care for the collection and provide the best possible access to visitors. Admission free. More at

Twitter: @nationalgallery
Facebook: @thenationalgallery
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YouTube: The National Gallery

Selldorf Architects is a 65-person architectural design practice founded by Annabelle Selldorf in New York City in 1988. The firm creates public and private spaces that manifest a clear and modern sensibility to enduring impact. Since its inception, the firm’s design ethos has been deeply rooted in the principles of humanism at every scale and for every condition, Selldorf Architects designs for the individual experience. As a result, its work is brought to life – and made complete – by those who use it. The firm offers services in architectural design, exhibition design, master planning, interior design, landscape concepts and strategic planning.

Clients include cultural institutions and universities such as: The Frick Collection, Luma Arles, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Shaker Museum, the Clark Art Institute, Neue Galerie New York, and Brown University. In addition, the firm has created numerous galleries for David Zwirner, Hauser & Wirth, and Thaddaeus Ropac among others, and designed exhibitions for Frick Madison, Frieze Masters, Gagosian Gallery and the Venice Art Biennale.