Gagosian Gallery is apparently trying to take over the world, with locations in New York, London, Rome, La Jolla, Hong Kong, and another coming to Paris. Its latest project is Richard Meier & Partners’ expansion of its Beverly Hills gallery which Meier originally designed in 1995. The new space adds 5,000 square feet to what was a 6,600 square foot building. We were able to step inside the project, which opened today on Beverly Hills’ swank Camden Drive, and we weren’t disappointed. The extension combines Meier’s signature pristine white walls and abundant natural light (long acid-etched skylights on both sides of the space are semi-opaque, but still reveal the color of the sky) combined with the grittiness of a wonderful existing barreled vaulted wood truss roof, which was discovered when the firm removed the ceiling from the building’s former tenants, Umberto’s Hair Salon. A huge translucent glass and aluminum sliding door at the street also lets in glowing light, and provides an easy entry for oversized works.
Inside the huge walls can support even larger art than before: the first exhibit features Andreas Gursky’s gargantuan, Google Earth-like manipulated photos from space. (Gursky didn’t make it to the press preview, our lone disappointment of the day). Future exhibitions will include Nancy Rubins’ outsized boat sculptures and Richard Serra’s Piranesian metalwork.
The expansion also includes new second level offices, a private viewing gallery and a rooftop sculpture terrace, which will all be completed by July, said gallery director Deborah McLeod.
So you’re probably wondering, what prompted Larry Gagosian to do all this expanding in this economy? According to McLeod the gallery signed its lease in September 2008, just before the bottom fell out of the economy. At that point they decided to not look back. “Larry is always interested in more,” said McLeod. Not to mention that working in this economy allowed the architects to find sub much easier, and for a much better price. “I think the timing worked out perfectly,” said Michael Palladino, Principal at Meier’s LA office.