Central to the design of Hauser & Wirth’s new gallery in Chelsea was creating a welcoming, open space that connects the gallery to the neighborhood and passers-by. While many galleries feature a reception area as a buffer between visitors and the exhibition space, 542 W. 22nd St. uses transparency to encourage visitors to enter and view the art on display. Wide, 16-foot- and 12-foot-tall glass doorways on the ground and second levels, respectively, fold away to expose the exhibitions and create a dynamic street presence. While representing forward-looking architecture, the masonry façade expresses a contextual and sympathetic attitude to adjacent structures, including several red-brick buildings that reflect the area’s industrial history. The exterior features a rhythmic sequence of windows with simple, black aluminum headers and sills. The design offers distinct, well-proportioned rooms that put people in direct contact with the art. Visitors encounter artworks all along their path through the building, including the main stair, as installations interact with the architecture dynamically in alignment with the gallery’s philosophy. On the ground level, the gallery is an open, L-shaped expanse with 18-foot ceilings and large skylight. Careful detailing differentiates the space from the typical contemporary art warehouse vocabulary. Polished concrete floors and white plaster walls are designed as an unobtrusive setting for the art. The café and bookstore, which also serves as an event space, is on the second level. To distinguish it from gallery space, wood planks are used for the floor covering.


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