The extensive renovation of the former Fix brewery on the junction of Kallirois Street and Syngrou Avenue in central Athens, transforming the defunct factory into a new home for the National Museum of Contemporary Art, has been granted a three-month extension for the unveiling, now scheduled for February 20.
While this delay will give the contractors time to put the finishing touches to the project, it will mean an even bigger delay for the opening of the museum and also that the institution will not be able to feature as prominently as had been hoped in the program of Greece’s six-month presidency of the European Union.
Technically, the inauguration of the museum will still take place in the spring, but it seems unlikely that the whole thing will come together in time for the museum to begin operating before the summer.
The first glitch is that the museum is still awaiting a decision on a request for 38 new employees to ensure the full operation of the institution, a decision that is unlikely to be positive as the government is under pressure to freeze all hirings. The second problem is that to open at the new facility, the museum’s management estimates it will need some 4 million euros in start-up money, another prerequisite that seems unlikely to be attained.
Delays aside, thousands of Athenians breathed a huge sigh of relief when the scaffolding and tarpaulin came down on the Syngrou side of the emblematic building in late October (a lot of work remains to be done on the Kallirois side), with its simple, elegant lines creating anticipation for the full unveiling.
The architectural study of the 3SK firm that designed the renovation takes diverse approaches. The style of the facades designed by Takis Zenetos on the Syngrou Avenue and Frantzi Street sides has been largely maintained, while the design for the third side, along Kallirois, is inspired by the now-buried Ilissos River.
The architects have also responded to concerns that there is not enough green space in the area by creating a large open courtyard in the interior of the building. They have also designed a garden for the roof, which will accommodate the National Glyptotheque (the sculpture gallery currently located in the Goudi military park), as well as a restaurant and cafe that will afford stunning views over the city.