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Barnes Museum Builders Rescue Wood From Certain Death

UIG via Getty Images

You can't say they're not trying: The new Barnes Museum is being constructed out of recycled material so it can obtain LEED Platinum Certification—the highest designation accorded by the U.S. Green Building Council. (There's an update of the LEED rating system this year, making it more rigorous, so they better hurry.) The architectural firm in charge of the vast Barnes project, Tod William Billie Tsien, has a holistic philosophy that seems to mesh well with a green sensibility. This is from the firm's website:

We see architecture as an act of profound optimism. Its foundation lies in believing that it is possible to make places on the earth that can give a sense of grace to life - and believing that that matters. It is what we have to give and it is what we leave behind. Isn't that lovely? It sounds kind of nature-y, right?

So it's fitting that Barnes Project Manager Philip Ryan told CBS' Steve Tawa that some of the floor will be constructed from "endangered South American boards that could have wound up in a landfill." Save the trees! There will also be floorboards repurposed from Coney Island, a 60,000-gallon rainwater cistern and a photovoltaic solar array on the roof. The firm has amazingly managed to recycle 98 percent of the materials that were left from the gulag archipelago of the Youth Study Center, the site's former occupant.

All this green goodwill is not enough to quell the anger of the Friends of the Barnes, however. The Friends' leader, Evelyn Yaari, updated the organization's Facebook page yesterday to let people know that the group met with its lawyer, Sam Stretton, recently, and he is still fighting the move—now with new information from the IFC documentary The Art of the Steal. The Barnes Museum is threatening to sanction the group, but Yaari claims that's just an intimidation tactic. She feels the mission is strong:

We know the Barnes movers find the Friends extremely annoying. But the Friends organization has a mission. When we found out that there is clear evidence of the conflict of the Attorney General in the matter, what could we possibly do but petition Judge Ott to re-open the case and grant legal standing to someone besides the Attorney General? Here's a trailer for the film that started a nationwide crusade. It's now out on DVD, but they're probably not recycled.

Barnes On The Parkway

2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA 19103