The Ondaatje Wing of the National Portrait Gallery creates a new heart to the gallery, increases the public and exhibition space by 50 per cent and significantly upgrades visitor facilities. It provides a dramatic central hall, lecture theatre, state-of-the-art IT gallery and two new exhibition spaces: the Balcony Gallery, accommodating the expanding twentieth-century collection; and the Tudor Gallery.
We proposed that, to create the space for a new wing, there should be an exchange of property between the National Gallery and the NPG. By giving up those galleries running along St Martin’s Place to the National Gallery, in return for control of the once dingy service yard separating the two institutions, the NPG gained space for a triple-height hall that provides a new circulation and focal point to the museum. The Balcony Gallery below is suspended on cables from the Tudor Gallery and flanked by a walkway that overlooks the central hall. A series of four metre-high partitions, which are staggered to allow reflected natural light into the exhibition space, partially enclose the gallery.
The rooftop restaurant gives new views out over Nelson’s Column and Whitehall. Above, the 100-seat restaurant and bar reveal new panoramic views of Trafalgar Square, Nelson’s Column and Whitehall. The restaurant has been designed as an implied loggia, with a sloping lead roof and a fully-glazed southern façade to maximise the breathtaking views.