Peter Farago, a RISD graduate, and his wife, Daphne, shared their good fortune with his alma mater, finally interrupting significantly the cumulative contributions of the Metcalf family to the museum building complex. Building in brick out from the rear of Pendleton House, and behind Platt's tempietto so as to leave a garden court in front, the Philadelphia architect Tony Atkin shifted to an elegant but somewhat industrial mien. Square red glazed tile blocks combine with heavily framed, square metal windows, each squared again in a lighter grid. These tile and glass units make a glazed, screenlike elevation, out in front of the boxy mass with a copper-clad, barrel-vaulted roof, containing the principal galleries on two levels.
The vault diffuses light from a monitor down the walls of the two-story upper gallery for large modern works. Inside, as on the exterior, faintly industrial and overtly structural elements deliberately contrast with the insistent geometrical abstraction of other components and the spaces made by them. Intended as sophisticated counterpoint, it misses a little, to produce an effect which is not so much disharmonious as uncertain. A stair, leading to a balcony corridor, folds around the core box of galleries and projects as a high, overhanging element to the outside. It provides elevated views down into the big gallery in one direction and vignetted views of Providence in the other, with a bridge into the topmost floor of Aldrich's building.