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Open> Gallery
Toshiko Mori's design for the new Sean Kelly Gallery isn't your generic white box.
Michael Moran / OTTO

Sean Kelly Gallery
475 Tenth Avenue
New York
Tel: 212.239.1181
Architect: Toshiko Mori Architects

When Sean Kelly added several new artists to his gallery’s roster, including Terence Koh and Idris Khan, he found himself in need of more space. So he traded in his Chelsea habitation for a new location in the former McGraw-Hill Building right on the edge of the Hudson Yards development. Toshiko Mori—who designed Kelly’s house in upstate New York—led the renovation of this mammoth, 22,000-square-foot space. With its large windows and high ceilings, the building, constructed in 1914, is a “hybrid of steel, fly ash concrete, and flat arched terra cotta” and is naturally “quite modern” said Mori.


But this isn’t your generic white box. The two-story gallery houses three public exhibition environments that can accommodate artwork of a large scale and of a variety of mediums. It also includes a black box space on the basement level.

The custom-built library—outfitted with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and a light-installation by Jeff Zimmerman—is an intimate space for meetings. The reception area, with its clean geometric layout, might just be the most visually enticing part of the gallery. At the entrance, there’s a long ebony walnut desk, which provides warmth and a counterpart to the two cube-like, glass-enclosed offices in the background.

“The idea is to be transparent about the people working in there,” said Mori. “And wanting to be up front and engaging with the people who come in.”

Nicole Anderson