Venue for viewing contemporary art
Hosfelt quickly signed the lease, and then called upon Fougeron Architecture to transform the building’s 2,000-sq.-ft. lobby as well as his 5,000-sq.-ft. portion of the rough, cavernous volume into an elegant, venue for viewing contemporary art.
“The client is a true gallerist,” says principal Anne Fougeron, describing Hosfelt’s unambiguous request that the space be as spare as possible so that the architecture is clearly subordinate to the art. “Contrary to most, however, he did not want one large space, but instead, a main gallery from which smaller, alternate spaces spiral off.” Working with associate Todd Aranaz, Fougeron called for the preservation of the existing architectural shell with minimal intervention: the concrete floor was sand-blasted and the brutish structural columns were painted, while the original wood ceiling joists were left exposed. The architects organized the plan around a large, central gallery that leads to two smaller galleries, offices, storage, and a private viewing room, all of which are located at the perimeter of the space. Floating abstract planes in an otherwise unadorned structure, the gypsum board walls that define the various spaces are held away from the existing walls, columns, and ceiling, say the architects, so that the old is distinguished from the new.
If Fougeron conceived the gallery to be self-effacing in the presence of art, the entry that it shares with its next-door neighbor is a grand and memorable architectural gesture. One approaches the two galleries by way of a ramped loading dock that provides a self-conscious transition from the gritty, industrial street to the rarefied world of contemporary art that exists within. Clad in overlapping panels of sandblasted glass that are affixed to the wall with steel clips and illuminated by neon tubes, the entry is “a powerful space where visitors are invited to reflect on the nature of art viewing,” says Fougeron. “It is here that the visitors are on display themselves for a few seconds as they walk up the concrete ramp.” Hosfelt appreciates not only the lobby’s welcoming signal to passersby but also its practical aspects. “The enormous garage door and ramp make it easy to get large works of art in and out,” he says. “And, if clients can’t find a parking spot, I tell them to just drive fight up the ramp.”
The project was completed in an “intense” four and a half months.