The Racine Art Museum project was a particular touchstone for Lynch. Regardless of his success, he always thought of the Racine community and his connections to the museum. His design for RAM turned a pair of late-nineteenth century buildings that were unappealingly renovated in the 1960s, into an architectural attraction. He covered the building’s blank façade with a structure of acrylic panels that are lighted at dusk so that the building glows like a lantern. This choice was originally an approach to cost saving but is a good example of Lynch’s imaginative approach to using different and sometimes unexpected materials. RAM’s lighted exterior has become one of the institution’s most recognizable images.
Lynch’s interior renovation features an almost Japanese sensibly for light and space that establishes a comforting and serene environment for viewing art. He also created volumes of space that respect the scale of the kinds of contemporary craft artworks that are in RAM’s collection—such as handmade ceramics, textiles, furniture, and jewelry—and presents them respectfully to their best advantage. Lynch believed that the Racine community deserved the positive awareness the new museum could bring to it. He paid particular attention to opening up the facility to the street and created spaces—such as the display windows on the street level along Fifth Street—that ushered the artwork to the pedestrians and invited them in with glimpses of what was occurring in RAM’s interior, as seen through large areas of glass.
Lynch was actively involved in promoting the launch of RAM, and through his efforts, the museum’s debut received an incredible amount of national and international publicity for a project of its size. As an indicator of its success, the RAM project received all five of the excellence awards the Chicago Chapter of the American Institute of Architects presents. The RAM project became an example that architectural excellence could be achieved on a limited budget in a medium-sized city.
Even though he was involved with projects around the world, Lynch’s connections to Racine and his continued interest in RAM were strong. Always available for a consult, he stayed in touch with the museum on a regular basis as its architect but also as a contributor, donor of artwork to the museum’s permanent collection, and friend. He was in discussion with museum staff on a number of projects involved with the celebration of the museum’s twentieth anniversary in 2023 and beyond. Because of his participation in so many ways, Lynch was a most valued member of RAM’s extended family and he will be greatly missed. The museum offers its condolences to his children, Annie and Blake, the staff at Brininstool + Lynch, and his large family of friends and colleagues. RAM, along with many other structures, will continue to stand as a record of Lynch’s talent and vision.