Selldorf Architects has completed 542 West 22nd Street, a spacious Manhattan art space that marks the New York firm’s latest in a longstanding collaboration with Swiss modern and contemporary art gallery Hauser & Wirth. Located in West Chelsea, the five-story concrete block building, which will serve as the new downtown home of the gallery, opens tomorrow, Tuesday, October 6, with Artists for New York, a special benefit show/initiative first announced last month. Proceeds from the sale of artist-donated works will go to small-and mid-sized nonprofit visual arts organizations financially ravaged by the COVID-19 crisis.
Spread across 36,000 square feet of “beautifully and subtly articulated, variously scaled volumes of space” per a Hauser & Wirth press release, 542 West 22nd is the first purpose-built, ground-up building project commissioned by the blue-chip gallery in its 28-year history. Founded in Zurich in 1992, Hauser & Wirth has breathed new purpose into numerous dated—some forsaken—existing structures that previously served different lives: the Roxy, a (now demolished and replaced with condos) roller-disco-turned-legendary New York dance club-turned exhibition space on 18th Street; the Globe Mills flour mill complex in downtown Los Angeles; the erstwhile Löwenbräu brewery in Zurich; a listed 1922 Midland Bank building on London’s Piccadilly, and a stately townhouse on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Selldorf Architects headed all of these adaptive reuse transformations.
Clad in a dark-grey masonry facade that “presents a contextual and sensitive attitude” to the historic industrial trappings of Chelsea’s art space-saturated far western fringes, Hauser & Wirth’s inaugural new build is situated directly beside its soon-to-be-former downtown Manhattan outpost at the former Dia Center for the Arts building, a converted 1920s era red brick warehouse at 548 West 22nd. Having been booted from its 18th Street digs several years back, Hauser & Wirth had taken up residence at the old Dia building as part of a temporary arrangement while work on the new building next door was underway.
With flexibility and adaptability in mind, the gallery spaces at 542 West 22nd are column-free, with polished concrete floors and white plaster walls that place the art front and center. “Careful detailing in the galleries distinguishes their atmosphere from the typical contemporary art warehouse vocabulary,” elaborates the announcement. On the ground and second floors, oversized street-facing glass doors can be opened and folded-up out of sight “to further engage the public with the art on view.” In addition to the ground and second floors, additional gallery space—configured specifically for large-scale installations—can be found on the building’s fifth level. Also on the second floor is an event space for lectures, soirees, and a range of programming while offices and showrooms populate the third and floor floors.
“The new building for Hauser & Wirth developed from the close dialogue we have been having with the gallery over the course of many years and many different projects, said Annabelle Selldorf, principal of Selldorf Architects, in a statement. “Here, we created something together that will envelop people with art. Visitors will encounter artworks all along their path through the building’s spaces. Installations will not be static, but will interact with the architecture dynamically, in alignment with Hauser & Wirth’s ethos and values.”
Site-specific artistic interventions will also find a permanent home at the gallery’s first new building, kicking off with works from Mary Heilmann and Rashid Johnson followed by others. Starting October 6, the location at 542 West 22nd will be open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. through 6:00 p.m. to guests with timed reservations.