Last year, AIA|LA honored Standard, helmed by Silvia Kuhle and Jeffrey Allsbrook with a merit design award for their thoughtful imagining of the new Kayne Griffin Corcoran Gallery in Los Angeles. A car dealership–turned-photography studio, the architects transformed it into a compelling space for art.
“It could have been a typical warehouse, but we wanted to try something different and more museum-like,” Kuhle says of the gallery, which includes a permanent, site-specific work by James Turrell. The main gallery features a ceiling defined by pyramidal coffers with skylights (the design of which required a lengthy succession of prototypes) and points to a consistent theme in the firm’s work: the thoughtful incorporation of natural light.
The newest gallery is far from the pair’s first. A couple of the early commissions Kuhle and Allsbrook took on were for artists James Welling and Mary Kelly. More recently, they designed a private gallery for a residence. “We didn’t approach it as a institution,” says Allsbrook. “It has an intimate character with wood walls and beamed ceiling. We made it as minimal and quiet as possible for the display of art but also feels domestic.”
Their retail commissions, too, have informed their evolving approach to gallery design. For Maxfield Bleu, an early project, owner Tommy Perse “encouraged us to think of it as a kind of gallery,” says Allsbrook. In their scheme, there was both a sales floor and an upper level intended for the display of particularly notable garments—treated as more as art than something to cover the body.
While “all of our projects tend to be minimalist environments with access to nature and great light,” notes Allsbrook, elements from the Kayne Griffin Corcoran project are finding their way into new project. “We’re doing a house with similarly-sized giant steel doors,” he reports. “I think of it as a direct relationship.” And Kuhle adds, “I’m putting skylights everywhere.”
Besides informing new work, the gallery continues to gain acclaim. It’s up for an Architizer A+ Award, as is their design for the Salford Meadows Bridge. To cast your vote for either project, click here and here.