CLEVELAND — The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame broke ground Thursday for a major expansion project, including a 50,000 square foot expansion.
The architect behind the project said his plans will improve the iconic structure, helping music’s legacy play on for future generations.
“Creating a new triangle that would connect to the lake to the city and to the pyramid,” said Vishaan Chakrabarti, the founder and creative director of PAU.
He’s drawing on the shapes and spirit of the museum.
“The idea of adding to an I.M. Pei building, a master work, is terrifying for any architect,” he said.
But he is facing those fears as his New York-based architecture firm, PAU, or Practice for Architecture and Urbanism, is designing the Rock Hall’s future.
“It will kiss the Pei pyramid in a very delicate way, but the idea is it forms this bowtie,” Chakrabarti said. “That right there, that cylinder piece that’s going into the water, that’s what you’re looking at right here. That’s what we’re standing in front of, and that’s kind of the knot in the bowtie.”
The roughly 50,000 square foot project will add a new entry lobby, public space, exhibition spaces, offices, an education center and a 6,000-foot exhibition venue.
Also, in terms of sustainability, there will also be a park and a green roof to help with storm water management.
“That’s the original building on the right,” Chakrabarti said. “That’s the big drum that’s supporting that big roof plane, and there’s the entrance right there."
As a lifelong music fan, Chakrabarti understands the power of song.
“I grew up in working-class Boston, and I definitely did not belong,” he said. “There were not a lot of people who looked like me or had names like me. Music was huge.”
He’s pouring the spirit and energy of rock into the foundation of the expansion.
“There’s extraordinary history here,” he said. “I mean, there’s Tina Turner’s dress, which I think would fit on my thumb, like there’s really fun things to see here.”
The project is creating a bridge from the past into the present, hoping to inspire the next generation.
“At a time when the country feels so divided, rock unites everyone,” Chakrabarti said.
The original building, he said, was designed to look like a turntable from space. The new plans will revitalize the Lake Erie Waterfront, which is a focus for Cleveland’s city leaders.
Construction is expected to be completed in 2026, but visitors can still come to the museum in the meantime.