Telfair Museum of Art, Jepson Center for the Arts
Project Title
Telfair Museum of Art, Jepson Center for the Arts
The new building for the Telfair Museum of Art in Savannah is located on historic Telfair Square, diagonally across from the Telfair Academy, the oldest public art museum in the South, built in 1818–19 by architect William Jay. The site is in the heart of the Savannah Historic District, an area planned by James Oglethorpe in 1733 and defined by a grid of streets that is punctuated by tree-shaded urban squares.

The building, a contemporary structure that harmonizes with Savannah’s urban fabric, respects the traditional grid of the historic district. The height and mass of the museum relate to the surrounding structures. The glazed façade on York Street engages tree-lined Telfair Square and is formed by two white concrete screens framing glass walls, which break up the 120-foot-wide frontage into bays of less than 60 feet, as required by the Historic Savannah guidelines.

The foyer of the Jepson Center for the Arts faces the square and is enclosed by a curved stone wall, through which a grand stair rises to the two upper levels. The foyer and grand stair are roofed by a trellised glass-and-steel structure, which casts a rich pattern of shadows on the walls and floors. The second floor contains a 200-seat auditorium, offices, a library, and educational galleries. The top floor is devoted to galleries for temporary exhibitions, Southern art, African-American art, and photography. A rooftop sculpture terrace, accessed from the upper galleries, is visible from the surrounding streets. Light-colored Portuguese limestone clads the building’s exterior and major interior walls, and the saddle-shaped roof is leaded copper.

Images on this page: 1 Northeast façade along West York Street; 2 Northeast façade with limestone cladding; 3 Rendering sketch; 4 As-built sketch; 5 Interior as-built sketch

Savannah, Georgia, United States of America

between 1998 and 2006
Completion Date
Client: Telfair Museum of Art;

Cost: US $35 million;

Size: 5,950 sq m (64,000 sq ft)

Competition: Won

Project Type
Safdie Architects
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