Located on West Broadway in Soho, this building was built in 1937 as a garage, and was also a restaurant before being transformed into its present use as an art gallery. Considered a landmark as a result of its address, the integrity of the building’s outward appearance was to be maintained. Next to the building is a courtyard, which was closed off from the street by a large garage door tagged by graffiti and barbed wire. Today, this same courtyard forms the passage to the gallery’s entrance.
The concept was to restore the existing stone building to its original symmetry and to intersect it with a new steel structure – a zone of electronic communication. This is accomplished by moving the emergency exit to the building’s adjacent courtyard, enclosed by a new steel wall and street-facing surveillance monitors. Here, the passerby is confronted with a framed CCTV feed of both the exhibition space’s interior and its visitors.
They create a zone of instability, and a reversal in which one is no longer sure who is viewing whom: are we VIEWING OR BEING VIEWED? Once the visitor has moved inside the gallery, the situation is reversed; one becomes a part of the exhibit, part of what is being viewed.
The glass in the existing façade windows is sand-blasted with fragments of a MAIN SEQUENCE diagram, showing the birth, life, and death of a star. These lines project shadows onto the galvanized steel wall placed behind, which results in a recorded layering of time.
After intersecting the existing gallery wall, the steel wall forms the courtyard pivoting entrance door, a free-hanging mailbox, and the necessary electronic equipment for intercom and surveillance systems. In its ‘open’ position, the door forms a freestanding translucent screen. To express the temporal function of the courtyard wall, its frame is projected outward; this frames the sky and street number of the gallery, and creates an interface between the brick walls of the neighboring buildings. Below, the new courtyard floor is a composite of black concrete with steel splinters and blue glass fragments, polished smoothly. The stainless steel expansion joints in the floor represent the same conceptual diagram as the sand-blasted lines in the façade.