Nearly 35 years after its conception, Sperone Westwater continues to exhibit the work of prominent artists of diverse nationality and age, who work in various media. The gallery, designed by Norman Foster of Foster + Partners, doubles the exhibition area and pioneers an innovative approach to vertical movement within a gallery setting. The concept for the Gallery is both a response to the dynamic urban character of New York’s Bowery and a desire to rethink the way in which the public engages with art in the setting of a gallery. The nine-storey building is part of a bold initiative to reinvigorate the neighborhood and the design will pioneer an innovative approach to vertical movement within a gallery building.
The centerpiece of the concept is a 12 x 20-foot moving room that connects the five floors where works of art will be displayed. The room allows visitors to move gradually between levels and will be a prominent feature along the Bowery, visible from the street, its gentle pace contrasting with the fast-moving traffic. At any given floor, the exhibition space can be extended by parking the moving room as required, by the use of an additional elevator and stairs which provide alternative access.
The design incorporates a mezzanine floor and double-height display area at street level, a sculpture terrace towards the park and a private viewing gallery at the top of the public floors. A setback marks the location of the offices. Works of art will be stored primarily in the basement, while a library – that also functions as an events space – is located at the top of the building below the mechanical floor. The CNC milled glass facade that houses the moving room act as a buffer zone, protecting the building from extreme temperatures and acoustically insulating the galleries.